A Division of Mid-American Publishing Corporation Sheffield Iowa
Written by Caitlin Ware, Regional News Editor
‘My passion is sharing’
Dougherty woman’s gardening a staple at the Franklin County Fair
By Caitlin Ware
For the last 16 years, Dougherty resident and local business owner Becky Litterer has been a consistent presence throughout the Franklin County Fair, not just through hosting a plant sale booth at the fairgrounds, but also by decorating the acres of property with pots of colorful, blooming vegetation.
Litterer — who owns Becky’s Greenhouse in Dougherty — first got involved with decorating for the fair nearly two decades ago, because her husband Larry was part of the fair board. Although a teacher by trade and degree, Litterer was an avid, mostly self-taught gardener and thought she could share her passion for plants with others by decorating the fairgrounds with plant arrangements.
Over the years, Litterer’s endeavors have only grown since the first fair she participated in, and this time around, the 2017 Franklin County Fair showcased approximately 300 of her plant and floral arrangements throughout the fairgrounds.
“All I did was want to share what I have, bring my passion [and] what I do to the fair to help make it a better [event],” Litterer said. “We’re bringing more [plants] now than back then, and they’re bigger. I’ve looked back at older pictures and say, ‘Wow, we thought they were nice then, but now, they’re even better.’”
Litterer’s decorating proc-ess starts long before the actual fair even gets rolling. At least six weeks prior, she and several part-time employees start planting and potting in both stationary containers and hanging baskets. This year, she got a helping hand from the West Fork Winners 4-H club, which assembled close to 80 pots. The key is to fill up the planters so they grow in full, to give the “wow effect” for fairgoers, she said.
“You pack them, you really fill them up,” Litterer said. “So when they grow, they just really get showy. There is gratification in knowing that [they] look really pleasing, and I can share [them] with everyone that comes to the fair. It’s just nice to be able to do that, to share my talent I guess.”
Litterer’s husband also helps out with the process by building the equipment she needs for her work, and helping to keep all of the plants properly watered.
“He’s my engineer, he makes everything I use, the water system, the trailers,” Litterer said. “We work together.”
The finished products for this year were close to 300 different arrangements of Be-gonias, Marigolds, Zinnias, Geraniums and filler plants, which were used to decorate Grandpa’s Farm, Phelps Tent, the Livestock Building and the entryway to the fair and convention center, among other locations. It usually takes at least three trips with a livestock trailer and pickup truck to transport all of the arrangements from Dougherty to the fairgrounds in Hampton, and this year was no exception.
“We’ve added some more as we’ve gone, I don’t count anymore, but I’ve been known to bring up to 300,” Litterer said. “This year everything looked good. God has blessed the [plants]. I am just the caretaker. It’s all His work, and this year He’s really showing off his work.”
Every July, when the carnival games have been packed up at the fairgrounds, and young livestock showers have collected their ribbons and traveled home, Litterer packs up her display plants and brings them back to Dougherty, where they become her “garden.” Once their job at the fair is over, the plants get put on display around Litterer’s greenhouse and home. She does not attempt to sell them, because the price she would have to sell them at based on the cost of materials used would deter buyers, she said. Instead, when the fall arrives, the containers get cleaned out and stored for the colder months, and the whole cycle begins again for next year.
“That is not our favorite job, to ‘unplant’ them,” Litterer said. “But they’ve done their duty.”
With almost two decades of decorating the Franklin County Fair with bright blossoms already under her belt, Litterer said she has no plans of stopping any time soon.
“We don’t know when we’ll quit, I’m still planning on doing it,” Litterer said. “It takes a lot of work. But I love sharing it with the gardeners and people. My passion is sharing.”
Hope you enjoyed, till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa