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‘Ironton in Bloom’ hosts picnic, welcomes judges

With food, activities and live music, Ironton in Bloom’s community picnic celebration made a splash Wednesday evening.

The civic organization held the event at the Rotary Fountain area on Center Street. But this event was about more than just having fun. It was also an opportunity for Ironton residents to meet judges from America in Bloom, a national contest that critiques cities according to municipal government, businesses and residential areas.

The judges have been in town since Wednesday morning.

“It’s just really a night to get together,” Carol Allen, co-chairwoman of Ironton in Bloom. “We wanted to highlight this area because it’s a great place to have a group activity.”

Darlene Blake of Des Moines, Iowa was one of two judges from the national program who came to evaluate the area.

Blake praised the city for its floral displays.

“Ironton has the best I’ve seen in quite a few years of any sized city,” she said.

The city won a national award for its floral displays two years ago. Blake helped judge the city then and said the area has only improved over time.

“I was impressed then and now it’s almost overwhelming,” she said.

The city also uses the America in Bloom program in the way that it was intended- to help the city gain publicity and grant money, Blake said.

Blake and another judge met with Ironton city officials Wednesday.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said the meeting provided officials with valuable feedback about the community. He added that Ironton in Bloom is helping to instill community pride.

“Attitudes in the city have improved for the better,” Blankenship said. “That shows me that there is some pride in the community. That’s what we want to continue to do.”

Several residents and city officials came to the picnic to offer their support to Ironton in Bloom.

Hazel Fields, an Ironton resident since 1973, said with the civic organization’s help the city is the best she’s seen it look.

“I think it’s very clean and it seems like people talk more about how pretty the town is and there’s more pride in it,” Fields said.

Georgia Willis, a resident of more than 50 years, echoed Fields’ sentiment.

“It kind of beautified the city and improved it,” she said. “It’s really nice.”