When I hosted this contest for the first time, the goal was to create an environment where bonsai lovers could use their creativity and technical skills to develop a bonsai in two weeks.  It allowed people to work with material that they would have over looked at a nursery and showed them that beautiful bonsai can be made from simple stock trees.  The mission was a success.  Nearly everybody was able to turn their trees into works of art and take them to levels beyond a glance the surface. For one contestant, Phillip Kenney, it was his first time styling a Juniper.  The inner artist in him created a tree that ultimately took third place.

The impact of this contest spread far and wide.  It attracted the attention of many people, some veterans, others beginners.  I began noticing a lot of people posting on Facebook, “The recent contest inspired me to go to the nursery and buy a juniper to style.  Take a look.”  The contest truly inspired people to go beyond their comfort zone and showed them first hand how a beautiful tree can be made.  When I saw the widespread effect and how wonderful it was to see new people engaged, I determined that this contest must go on.

Moving forward, I will host this contest two times a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.  The entry fees will be low to attract as many new artists as possible.  The field of contestants will surely vary from experienced to novice.  Beginners may be intimidated by partaking in a contest with veterans, but they should keep in mind that the average average years of experience for the top contestants in the last contest was 3.5 years.