“This third-annual competition showcased the talents of 17 floral artists from Texas and four other states.” 

Jim Johnson Cup 2019 judges (from left): Donna Senter, AIFD; Alan Masters, AIFD; and Ted Bruehl, AIFD.

Jim Johnson, AIFD, AAF, TMF (second from right) poses with winners Ace Berry, AIFD, TMF (left); Nicola Parker, AIFD; and Fabian Salcedo (right).

On March 5, 17 highly skilled floral designers from five states converged on Houston, Texas, to compete in the prestigious Jim Johnson Cup. This third annual design competition was hosted by Ken Senter, AIFD, owner of The Senterpiece in Houston, and wholesaler Pikes Peak of Texas, Houston. The contestants were given three design challenges, each 45 minutes in duration, for the opportunity to win the coveted cup title, $1,000 and entry into the upcoming Mid-America Cup competition slated for August in Arkansas.

Judging the evening’s design match-up were Donna Senter, AIFD; Ted Bruehl, AIFD; and Alan Masters, AIFD, who selected Nicola Parker, AIFD, TMFA, as the 2019 Jim Johnson Cup winner. Ace Berry, AIFD, TMF, was awarded second place, and Fabian Salcedo took third place. Assisting with the event were members from Texas A&M University’s Forsythe Chapter of SAIFD, currently recognizing its 40th anniversary. Pikes Peak of Texas generously provided 3,200 cut stems for the three rounds of competition.

An education-based fundraising push netted more than $11,000 for the Jim Johnson AIFD Fund established last year through the AIFD Foundation. Ken Senter confirmed that an anonymous donor has offered to match the amount, which places the initial $25,000 goal within reach. Once $25,000 is accumulated in the fund, the AIFD Foundation will begin awarding scholarships in floral design and floriculture in Johnson’s name.

Jim Johnson addressed event participants and attendees prior to awarding trophies and posing for photos. In his speech, he underscored the importance of continuing education and design competitions by saying, “Competing is one of the most educational things you can do because it forces you to stretch yourself.” Who better to share that advice than the beloved and highly accomplished Johnson whose distinguished career includes floral retail and greenhouse ownership and operations, Texas A&M University faculty post, Benz School of Floral Design director for 31 years, SAIFD Forsythe Chapter advisor, author of 15 books, and winner of numerous industry awards and achievements including “Award of Distinguished Service to the Floral Industry” from the American Institute of Floral Designers.

2019 Jim Johnson Cup Participants

Nicola Parker, AIFD – Texas (winner)
Ace Berry, AIFD, TMFA – Texas (2nd place)
Fabian Salcedo – Texas (3rd place) • Jennifer Bevins – Texas
Gerry Gregg, AIFD – California • Clay Honeycutt, CFD – Texas
Melanie Hugele, CFD – Texas
Kim O’Brien Jones, AIFD – Texas
Suzi Knox – North Carolina
Connie LeBlanc, AIFD, LMF – Louisiana
Lorri Lopez – Texas • Debbie Lyon, TMF – Texas
Michael McCarthy, AIFD – Texas
Coby Neal, AIFD, PFCI – Texas
Beth O’Reilly, AIFD, TMF – Texas
Megan Runge – Texas
J Ross Railey, CFD – Alabama