This is the latest spring showing of the crocus anyone around here can recall, say festival organizers
The good news was they were blooming in abundance on the actual day of an annual festival — May 4 — to celebrate their arrival.
Normally, organizers see the pert first flower of spring promptly around the middle of April. Last year, interestingly, was the earliest recorded bloom — March 31.
The tricky part of this cold spring was getting photographs submitted by deadline, says John Dietz, a photographer and writer who lives in the small southwestern Manitoba village renowned for its small-town festival and the abundant crocus that still bloom around here.
Because of the late appearance, submissions to the contest were fewer than half of normal, said Dietz.
“People had just two full days to do the photographs,” he says. “They bloomed and then the snow hit.”
The first crocus blooms photographed and entered in their contest this year was spotted April 27. Wind came on Monday and snow followed making it tough to meet the entry deadline of April 30. Eleven adults submitted 38 photos taken during the three-day period. Two young sisters were the only participants in the youth section.
Thanks to boosted publicity from a Winnipeg Free Press story, what they lacked in photo submissions they made up with more out-of-town visitors, though.
They had a very good turnout among locals, plus lots of new faces in town for the day.
“We had people coming here from other parts of Manitoba to see the crocus and saying it was because they’ve never known where to find one in Manitoba,” Dietz said, adding that he chatted with visitors from as far away as Pinawa to the east and Binscarth to the west.
Manitobans wanting to see Arden’s vast carpet of crocus can still see plenty of blooms too.
“They’re beautiful right now, and they will be for another week,” he said May 10.
Arden has hosted its annual spring crocus festival for 13 years running. The event began after growing interest in local heritage combined with increasing appreciation of the abundant floral resource prompted the community to create the celebratory event.
Crocus need natural habitat and only bloom in undisturbed landscapes. The dry, gravelly soil of Arden Ridge, the highest shoreline of the old Lake Agassiz, was never suited to cultivation, thus the abundance of natural flora.
Arden also registered the name Crocus Capital of Manitoba, and further ‘branded’ their community by commissioning local artist Dennis Gagnon to create a signature 9×14-foot purple crocus that greets visitors coming to Arden year round.