42nd Annual Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition

August 16-18, 2019

About  |  Guest Master  |  Vendors  |  Schedule  |  Workshops  |  Dinner and Auction  |  Tree Registration

August 2017 Best of Show & 1st Place Professional

Our August Exhibition has the longest history, going into its 42nd year in 2019. It is one of the largest regional shows in the nation. Centered on the Chicago Botanic Garden's Permanent Collection, featuring over 50 world-class trees, it’s a showplace of trees from across the Midwest and beyond. Enthusiasts from across the country bring their trees to be judged in the main hall at the Garden's Regenstein Center.

A gallery of the 2018 41st Annual Mid-America Exhibition is available here. We have a review of the August 2017 Exhibition available here. We also have a review of the 2015 Exhibit available with that year's winners.

The show is free, but regular parking rates apply for entry to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Traveling from out of town?  Many of the hotels near the Chicago Botanic Garden offer discounted rates.


Guest Master William Valavanis


Bill became interested in bonsai and horticulture at age 11 and pursued his interest by studying Ornamental Horticulture at SUNY Farmingdale and Cornell University. He has made over 50 trips to Japan and formally apprenticed with Kyuzo Murata and Kakutaro Komuro in Omiya Bonsai Village in Japan. Additionally a 30 year study and association with Yuji Yoshimura combined with his formal horticultural degrees, apprenticeships in Japan and his artistic talent provide Bill with the solid background to promote and teach classical bonsai art around the world. His educational programs have been presented throughout the United States, Canada, Brazil, England, Italy, Africa, Belgium, China, Indonesia, Australia, China, Taiwan and Japan.

He is the proprietor of the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, New York where he maintains a fine personal collection of classical bonsai. He offers introductory and advanced classes as well as seminars in Rochester, New York. Thirty successful bonsai symposia were organized during the past three decades. He also maintains a busy teaching schedule for bonsai and horticultural organizations worldwide. In order to further promote the artistic and horticultural expression of classical bonsai art around the world he began publishing International BONSAI magazine the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States 40 years ago. He has authored 11 books and many articles published in English, Japanese and other European languages.

Bill is an active member and officer of numerous local, national and international bonsai and horticultural organizations. His distinctive bonsai and garden displays have received many awards both in the United States and abroad. In 2008 he organized the First US National Bonsai Exhibition which was very successful. The 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition will be held in September 2020.

In October 2017 the US National Arboretum honored him by inducting him into the US Bonsai Hall of Fame, the third and only living member following John Naka and Yuji Yoshimura. In November 2018 he became the first American and Westerner invited to assist judging the Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition in Japan, one of Japan’s highest quality shows.

He freely shares his 50 plus years of dedicated scholarly bonsai study, experiences and discoveries with students and serious bonsai fanciers through International BONSAI and his educational bonsai programs.



Asian Artiques

Kristy Majeske from Hot Springs, AR will be joining us.  She is bringing a selection of antique Japanese Scroll paintings and a selection of smaller scrolls suitable for display with Bonsai trees.  She also has an interesting selection of Japanese ceramic collectables.

BC Bonsai


Local grower of Bonsai starter stock grown at their nursery.  Grown without grafting they have both container and field grown trees.  Their Bonsai work stands are amazing. Linda Camp and Jim Beck also offer Bonsai supplies and classes.  www.bcbonsai.com

Bonsai by Fields


Mark Fields is a noted Bonsai artist.  His nursery is located in Greenwood, IN.  Mark leads workshops, lectures and demonstrations.  We welcome his return and look forward to the workshop he will be leading.  www.bonsaibyfields.com

Bonsai Unearthed


Owen Reich, noted Bonsai master artist has opened Bonsai Unearthed.  While he has presented workshops at our Exhibit in the past this is his first year with his own booth.  We are excited to see what trees he will bring. www.bonsaiunearthed.com

Cactus and Succulent Society


The Cactus and Succulent Society of Greater Chicago will be joining for the second year at the Exhibit.  They will focus on offerings that can accompany Bonsai Tree displays.  All plants are grown by members of their society.  www.cssgc.org

Cass Bonsai


From Edwardsville, IL, the Cass brothers offer an excellent selection of Bonsai trees and supplies.  They have been a constant presence at the Midwest Bonsai Exhibitions for many years.  We are delighted to have them back.  Brian is also a noted Bonsai artist.  www.cassbonsaigardens.com

DaSu Bonsai


Dave Lowman operates DaSu Bonsai Studios on his 800 acre farm in central Iowa.  He provides workshops, demonstrations and classes on Bonsai. Dave started in Bonsai in 1981 and has been coming to Chicago for our Exhibition for many years.  www.bonsaitrees.com

Fred Tarnow Pottery


Fred is a member of the Midwest Bonsai Society.  He offers his pottery for your pleasure.  Fred is also an expert on Suiseki stones.  Occasionally he can be persuaded to part with one his stones.  Fred will also be managing a table of Bonsai stands for sale from the collection of Bonsai Master Ivan Watters.

The Flower Market


Kurt Smith of Michigan’s largest Bonsai Nursery is returning to our Exhibition.  Located in Monroe. Michigan the Flower Market has been providing Bonsai and pre-Bonsai trees for many years.  www.flowermarketdundee.com

Golden Arrow Bonsai


Andy Smith, from Deadwood, SD will once again bring his amazing collected conifers.  Andy is a noted collector, Bonsai artist and author.  You will find his articles on the ABS magazine and the BCI magazine.  www.goldenarrowbonsai.com

The Hidden Gardens




Chicago’s own Jeff Schultz from The Hidden Gardens will be displaying Bonsai trees.  He will be partnering with Owen Reich to present a workshop.  www.hiddengarden.net

International Bonsai



Bill Valavanis has been supporting our August Exhibition since it began.  He is a noted Bonsai Artist and vendor of Bonsai trees and supplies.  Bill also publishes International Bonsai magazine and hosts the US National Bonsai Exhibition in even numbered years in Rochester, NY.  www.internationalbonsai.com

Jack Ken Matsumoto

Jack Ken Matsumoto of Buffalo Grove, IL retired from teaching and has taken up Japanese calligraphy and scroll design.  He has exhibited regularly at the Japanese American Festival in Illinois and will be joining us for the first time at our August Exhibit.  His booth also as other interesting collectables.

Lakeside Bonsai

Matt Gothberg from Western Michigan is joining us for the second year with his well styled and pre-bonsai trees. His exhibit was well received last year.

Linda Ippel Studios


Linda Ippell returns to our Exhibit. Her transition from traditional pottery to Bonsai pots is complete.

Literati Designs

Steve Seltzer is returning with his collection of beautifully styled Bonsai trees.  He is a regular at the Exhibition and is from Chicago. We are delighted to have him back.

Mulberry Creek

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Mulberry Creek joins our Exhibit for the first time. Mulberry Creek is well known for Bonsai accent plants, Faery Garden plants, and ground covers. They also have a line of Bonsai starter trees that are sure to generate a lot of interest. They are located in Huron, OH. www.mulberrycreek.com

Nitju Clayworks


Ross Adams returns to Chicago with his beautiful and interesting selection of Bonsai Pottery. We are delighted to have him back with us again.

Sara Rayner Pottery


Sara Rayner has become one of America’s premier Bonsai potters.  She will be bring her winter’s work down from Red Wing, MN in August.  She has been making hand thrown Bonsai pots for the past 16 years.  sararaynerpottery.com

Sumo Bonsai Supply


Specializing in their Sumo Cakes bonsai fertilizer, Sumo Bonsai will be joining us for the first time selling their home-made fertilizer in cake and granular forms. www.sumobonsaisupply.com

Tandamiti Bonsai


Hank Miller brings his selection of Bonsai trees and unique stands to Chicago.  He has been working on creating and teaching Bonsai with a focus on tropical and deciduous trees.  He is also a skilled wood worker and has a unique collection of stands.  www.tandamiti.com

Waldo Street Pottery


Eli Atkins will make a first rime visit to our August Exhibition. He makes interesting and distinctive Bonsai Pottery, Eli is joining us from his home in Atlanta,GA.

Wildwood Gardens


Welcome back again to Frank Mihalic from Chardon, OH.  Frank and his father Tony have made Wildwood into a thriving Bonsai business.    In addition to the amazing variety of Bonsai trees and accent plant offered he is also a gifted teacher.  This year Frank will be leading two classes to assist children in creating a Bonsai.  At our May Exhibition this was our most popular workshops.  www.wildwoodgardens.com

Weekend Schedule of Events

Information Coming Soon!



All workshops are $50.00 with the following exceptions: The Children’s workshops on Saturday and Sunday afternoon have a cost of only $10.00.  The Exhibition Critique on Friday evening has a cost of $20.00.  The dinner and auction on Saturday evening has a cost of $15.00.  Secure On-line registration is available through the links below using EventBrite.  Material fees for trees are paid directly to the Vendor at the time of the workshop.  Except for the Children’s workshop please bring your own tools and wire.  Cancellations of one week or less are entitled to a 50% refund.

Information Coming Soon!

Dinner and Auction

Information Coming Soon!

Tree Registration

egTree registration for the Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition is open to all, irregardless of residency or skill level.  There is no fee to register trees.  Trees are judged by our Guest Master, and critique sheets are provided to tree owners after the show.  Trees are registered into four classes: Novice, Open, Professional and Non-Judged.  Please note that due to a ban at the Chicago Botanic Garden, no Boxwoods will be allowed at the Exhibition.  Our page dedicated to Boxwood Blight has more information.

While trees are spot-watered throughout the weekend of the Exhibition, please make sure your trees are thoroughly watered before tree registration.

The Midwest Bonsai Society reserves the right, in conjunction with Senior Member and Guest Master feedback, to reorganize and move trees and displays around the Exhibition at its discretion, for aesthetic or logistic purposes, at any point during the Exhibition.  Lighting is fixed within the Exhibition hall; tree owners are not able or allowed to modify the lighting above or around his/her tree(s).

Check back closer to the Exhibition for details on registering your tree!