Little Rock, Arkansas, August 25, 2023* – The bustling city of Little Rock, Arkansas, played host to an extraordinary showcase of floral artistry at the Mid America Invitational Cup 2023. This prestigious event, held in conjunction with the annual Arkansas Florist Association convention, brought together talented designers from all corners of the United States and Mexico to compete in various design competitions that left attendees awe-inspired.

The Mid America Invitational Cup, now in its latest edition, featured a competition that tested the creativity and skills of participating florists. With four distinct competitions taking place, the event was a celebration of the floral industry’s vibrancy and innovation.

The **Scholarship Competition**, regarded as an entry point for budding designers, saw contestants crafting three exceptional pieces. The standout performer was Amber Bunn, CFD, AMF, who secured the overall victory. Amber’s exquisite designs demonstrated her unique perspective on floral arrangements, showcasing a promising future for her in the world of floristry.

Another highlight of the event was the **Arkansas Designer of the Year Competition**, open to past winners of the Scholarship Design competition and AIFD members in good standing. Michelle Red, AIFD, CFD, AAMF, AMF, stood out as the victor in this competition. Michelle’s exceptional talent and dedication were recognized with the coveted award, earning her the opportunity to represent Arkansas in the Mid America Cup 2024.

The **Nick Schembra AIFD Memorial Iron Designer Competition** added an element of suspense and surprise to the proceedings. With participants placing their names in a hat, only 12 were chosen to proceed. After an intense elimination process, Jennifer Jones, CFD, AMF, emerged victorious, representing Arkansas with immense pride.

Undoubtedly, the centerpiece of the event was the **Mid America Invitational Cup**, attracting 21 talented competitors from across the US and Mexico. Contestants received the same materials and were presented with three distinct categories: Wedding – a modern take on a 70s-inspired bouquet, Flowers to Wear – a shoulder piece suitable for a Studio 54 gala, and an Arrangement for an art gallery opening featuring Andy Warhol. The clock ticked as participants had three hours to bring their creative visions to life.

Renee Potter, AIFD, representing Arizona, emerged as the triumphant winner of the Mid America Invitational Cup. Renee’s masterful interpretations of the categories left a lasting impression, earning her the top honor. 

In addition to the Mid America Invitational Cup winner, several other designers achieved recognition for their exceptional work. 

1st runner up Bridget Habetler Aifd representing Georgia, 2nd runner up Abby Thornton representing Mississippi.

Jeremy Rettger, AIFD, took first place in the arrangement category, while Bertha Canedo, AIFD, wowed the judges with her winning wedding bouquet design. The flowers-to-wear category produced a tie between Kari Gaudet, AIFD, CFD, and Varito Vasquez, AIFD-FSMD, showcasing the diversity of talent present.

The success of the Mid America Invitational Cup 2023 has set high expectations for the next edition. The floral world eagerly anticipates the Mid America Cup 2024, which is slated to return to Little Rock, Arkansas, on August 23, 2024. As the event continues to evolve, it serves as a beacon of creativity and inspiration for floral enthusiasts and professionals alike, reminding us of the boundless beauty that blooms through the hands of skilled designers.

Source: Kay Schlaefli AIFD, CFD, AMF. Board of Directors – Arkansas Florist Association