42nd Annual Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition

August 16-18, 2019

About  |  Guest Master  |  Vendors  |  Workshops  |  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

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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.



Vendors to be announced soon!



Please check back closer to the Exhibition for our workshop schedule!

Tree Registration

Tree 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).

Please check back closer to the Exhibition for tree registration information.