The desert town of Twentynine Palms, California is located on the edge of the Mojave Desert and near Joshua Tree National Park. It is here where the annual Twentynine Palms Weed Show will take place in a few weeks.
The Weed Show is just like a flower show - without the flowers. Weeds are the attraction. Show competitors enter their versions of themed, artistic dried weed compositions in the hopes of winning a blue ribbon. There are 12 different categories - with one set aside for fresh weeds. Competitors compile their creations using things they find around the desert - except lizards and lizard bones, which are not allowed
Pat Rimington, a resident of the town, stated that, “I know we’ve had sun-dried lizards in the Weed Show before. Yes, the lizards died of natural causes, and they didn’t smell. But some people said, ‘Ew,’ so we don’t want them this year.”
The unique Weed Show began when World War I veterans and their wives arrived in Twentynine Palms. The area was rugged and although residents did not have electricity, indoor plumbing or even running water, the ladies organized and founded the Women’s Club of Twentynine Palms.
In 1940, the group invited a special guest to speak, an etching artist named Mildred Bryant Brooks. Since etiquette required the ladies to present Brooks with fresh flowers when she arrived, the ladies searched for flowers to make a bouquet. Unfortunately, it was a very hot July in a desert town, and no fresh flowers were around. The ladies apologized profusely, and legend has it that Brooks replied, “But why do you need fresh flowers when you have so many beautiful weeds?”
Hence, the birth of the Weed Show. The Show is now in its 75th year and run by the town’s historical society.
One participant, Cathy Snodgrass observes that, “Without the Weed Show, I never would’ve known I had an artistic side. What I do is I look at the categories, and then I look at my junk. Then I let my imagination take over.”