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Society of American Florists’ 138th annual convention:

'Amistad' wins Best in Show and CalFlowers wins SAF’s Marketer of the Year Award

Last week, from September 6-9, the Society of American Florists' 138th annual convention took place. A total of 473 floral professionals from 42 states and five countries gathered in Phoenix for three days of education, networking, and competitions. And regarding this latter, Amistad won the Best in Show at the SAF's Outstanding Varieties Competition, and CalFlowers won SAF's Marketer of the Year Award.

'Amistad' - Best in Show at SAF's Outstanding Varieties Competition
'Amistad,' a light pink double Oriental lily presented by Sun Valley Floral Farms, won over judges with its soft coloring, elegance, and grandeur to win the Society of American Florists' Outstanding Varieties Competition, held in conjunction with the organization's 138th annual convention in Phoenix.

The Best in Show win stunned Sun Valley's president and CEO, Lane DeVries, who hadn't entered the competition in several years and had put a considerable amount of time and effort behind another entry — a variety of ilex he bred.

"We are very happy with our best in the show," he said of the lily, which Sun Valley has grown for two years. "These just came out of regular production in the greenhouse. We didn't plan for it, we just picked it out of the greenhouse and went for it."

Judges were impressed with the strong, tall stems bearing four to six lightly fragrant and pollenless blooms. One judge described the lily as "elegant and classic," a flower that could be used for everyday arrangements as well as wedding and funeral work.

'Amistad' was among 249 entries from 28 companies entered in the 2023 Outstanding Varieties Competition.

Judges scored each entry based on color and commercial appeal, stem and foliage, bloom form and size, and overall presentation. The judging panel, which included three retailers, three growers, and three wholesalers, evaluated specific categories of flowers, and the highest-scored entry of each won "Best in Class." From this elite group, judges chose their Best in Show winner.

Below is a roundup of the Best in Class recipients:

  • Other Cut Flower: PINK VICTORY® VERONICA, Floral Chain Direct
  • Cut Dianthus: Novia, AYURA SAS
  • Cut Alstroemeria: Florentia, Royal Van Zanten
  • Cut Garden Rose: Victorian Red, Dream Farms
  • Cut Bulb Flower: Amistad, Sun Valley Floral Farms
  • Cut Spray Rose: Bridal Veil, Eufloria Flowers
  • Decorative (Cut) Foliage & Berries: Winter Spirit, Sun Valley Floral Farms
  • Cut Rose: Aloha Dream, Farms
  • Cut Chrysanthemum: Bonita Orange, Spray Royal Van Zanten
  • The following SAF members served as judges:


  • Jodi McShan, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, McShan Florist
  • Lori Wheat, AAF, Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop & Garden Center
  • Carrie Moore, AAF, Jenny's Floral


  • Lani Callister, AAF, Ensign Wholesale Flower Market
  • Red Kennicott, AAF, Kennicott Brothers
  • Ryan Alders, Alders Wholesale


  • Erik Hagstrom, Albin Hagstrom & Sons
  • Ben Dobbe, Holland America Flowers, LLC
  • Leo Roozen, AAF, Washington Bulb Co., Inc.

CalFlowers - SAF's Marketer of the Year Award

A national marketing campaign that promoted flowers as self-care and gifted the marketing assets to the industry to use at a local level is the winner of the Society of American Florists' 2023 Marketer of the Year award.

CalFlowers' (the California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers) "Flowers. Self-care made easy" campaign won over a panel of six judges, clinching the industry's top marketing award and a $5,000 prize sponsored by Design Master, a division of Smithers Oasis.

"This is not a CalFlowers win. This is a win for everyone in the flower industry," said Steve Dionne, AAF, executive director of CalFlowers. "We hope that this increased visibility encourages more industry stakeholders to participate in and contribute to the That Flower Feeling brand."

The cornerstone of the campaign is a video that features a woman's hilarious attempts at self-care. In the end, she discovers the simplicity and mental health benefits of buying flowers. That video and other marketing assets — which are available for floral businesses to use for free — appeared on social media and streaming services. CalFlowers estimates that by the end of the year, the campaign will have reached 120 million people.

The panel of judges included five floral marketers and one outside marketing expert.

One judge, Jessica Kegerreis, senior marketing and creative manager at Syndicate Sales, described the campaign as "a groundbreaking campaign for our industry" because of its "creativity, mass adoption, and viral reach."

Another judge praised the campaign for how it leveraged the opportunity for exposure in response to the Miley Cyrus' song, "Flowers," in which she croons, "I can buy myself flowers." The That Flower Feeling Foundation, established in 2022 to collect funds for future campaigns, sent Cyrus a custom-made vase of her hand and rented billboards and billboard trucks around Los Angeles, thanking Cyrus for unofficially promoting the campaign's message in her song.

"The originality of this campaign is undoubtedly a winning factor," said Sahid Nahim of Above All Flowers and New Blooms Solutions, a floral marketing agency. He added that the spin-off campaign targeting Cyrus "showcases remarkable creativity."

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