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 Naoki Maeoka


Naoki Maeoka is a bonsai professional based out of Osaka prefecture in Japan.  He obtained his Japanese bonsai association certificate in 2015 working out of Fujikawa Kouka-en nursery.  Prior to his bonsai carrier, Naoki graduated from Osaka University Of Art, where he studied and received a diploma in graphic design.  He has always had passion for bonsai, music and pottery. 

Since joining Fujikawa Kouka-en in 2009, he has worked extensively on a variety of bonsai projects.  He has worked with many different species and styles of bonsai. Over the years he has developed his skills in best practice methods in regards to both aesthetic qualities and proper care of bonsai.  He has conducted workshops and demonstrations in Italy, Spain, France, Sweden, Denmark and Australia. Future projects include opening up his own bonsai nursery and school, installing a kiln to make his own bonsai pottery, and conduct more workshops across the world.

We sat down with Naoki at Kouka-en to get a glimpse into his favorite trees, species, and to see him at work at the nursery.  We're excited to have him at the August Exhibition!



American Bonsai Society

The American Bonsai Society will be selling books and other bonsai-related educational materials.  www.absbonsai.org

American Bonsai Tools


A few years ago an enterprising group in Florida decided to start making high quality Bonsai tools in the United States.  They not only produce high quality tools but they also sell them at competitive prices with a warranty.  They have had rave reviews at the Bonsai Exhibitions they have attended and we are happy to welcome them back to Chicago. www.americanbonsai.com

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

First Branch Bonsai


R. Schlafer from Colorado is appearing for the first time at a Midwest Bonsai Exhibition.  We are looking forward to seeing his collected North American trees in August. www.firstbranchbonsai.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.


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.

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.  www.redwing.net/~daalms/

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

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

Thursday, August 16th

Noon - 7:00PM - Tree Registration (see Tree Registration below)

Friday, August 17th

Noon - 5:00PM - Exhibition Open
5:00PM - 6:30PM - Exhibit Critique by Naoki Maeoka (see Workshops below)

Saturday, August 18th

9:00AM - 5:00PM - Exhibition Open
9:00AM - Noon - Vendor and Guest Judge Workshops (see Workshops below)
1:00PM - 4:00PM - Demonstration by Naoki Maeoka in the Auditorium (free)
1:00PM - 4:00PM - Vendor and Children’s Workshops (see Workshops below)
6:30PM - 9:00PM - Dinner and Auction at the Takiff Center (see Dinner and Auction below)

Sunday, August 19th

9:00AM - 5:00PM - Exhibition Open
9:00AM - Noon - Vendor and Guest Judge Workshops (see Workshops below)
1:00PM - 4:00PM - Vendor and Children’s Workshops (see Workshops below)




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.

Dinner and Auction


August 18th, 2018, 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Takiff Center, 999 Green Bay Road, Glencoe, IL 60022

Dinner and Auction.  Drinks, complimentary wine and beer and soft drinks start at 6:30 p.m.  The dinner is informal and will consist of ordered-in food including salads, chicken, Italian dishes and pizza. An amazing silent auction and raffle will be held during the dinner. The Center is just minutes from the Garden..  The raffle will be for the tree styled by Guest Judge Naoki Maeoka of Japan in the afternoon demonstration.  The Silent Auction will be for items donated by our fabulous vendors and club members. Cost is $15.00 per person - Purchase tickets online now at Eventbrite.

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).

Trees can easily be pre-registered using our Google Form available here.  Please submit one entry per tree you are registering.  If you prefer to pre-register on paper, download and complete the form (one per tree) and bring it along to the tree registration.  Trees being exhibited should be dropped off Thursday August 16th, between 12PM noon and 7PM at the Regenstein Center at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Trees are not available to be removed from the Exhibition until its conclusion at 5PM on Sunday August 19th.