2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition


This year’s exhibition was held on September 11-12, 2021 in the Total Sports Experience in East Rochester, New York. The 55,000 square foot facility is composed of two indoor fields. One field was used to display over 200 bonsai while the other field, surrounded by plexiglass had over 45 vendors. There were more than 90 shohin bonsai this year. Although the total number of displayed bonsai was a bit lower than in the past, it was clear to many the beauty and quality of bonsai is rapidly rising in the United States. This was the first bonsai gathering of over 400 visitors in about three years and provided for meeting long time friends and fellowship.

I have organized 31 successful symposia, regional displays and seven US National Bonsai Exhibitions. To say that this year was the most difficult is an understatement. We followed COVID protocals and had to limit the number of visitors. We had threats to close us down. Additionally, exhibitors were cancelling their bonsai displays up to a few days before the event because of raising COVID problems. traveling and attending during the pandemic. Unfortunately, we lost over 20 beautiful and large bonsai from four different study groups in Canada because they could not enter the United States. Even Canadian visitors could not attend. The US National Arboretum and the Chicago Botanic Garden could not contribute bonsai because of government prohibited travel. Although not apparent, I was a wreck, as COVID restrictions could change at any time. And, on top of all these problems I had serious health issues and had a difficult time moving around.

However, we DID IT! We have a very strong bonsai community in Rochester, New York, who always helps to promote bonsai. In addition to my Monday Senior Crew of ten men and women, there was a total of about 40 volunteers who constructed, hosted and took down the exhibition. The Bonsai Society of Upstate New York was a major sponsor of the successful event and provided plenty of hands to work. Out of town exhibitors also came early to help set up.

During the entire exhibition Joe Noga was in his studio capturing the beauty of each bonsai for the Commemorative Album which will be released in early spring. Professional studio photos need to get the best exposure, shadow and highlights for each bonsai. Some took 20 minutes to photograph. When you enjoy and study the photos you can easily see in the results. You can easily get the pre-publishing price and order the Commemorative Albu­m at: 


If you would like to support the US National Bonsai Exhibitions and help spread and raise the level of beauty in the United States, please purchase a copy. Each of the seven Commemorative Albumsfeature approximately 200 different photo masterpieces.

Kusamono artist and authority, Young Choe, had a large display of plantings from across the country. She provided a black background which really made the kusamono stand out. In addition to her 40 foot display, she also presented two lecture demos and created several kusamono which were auctioned.

Approximately 40 suiseki from around the world were displayed.


On Friday afternoon the three judges, Enrique Castano (Mexico), Marco Invernizzi (Italy) and Kathy Shaner (USA) carefully examined over 200 bonsai to select the 12 award winning bonsai categorized by: size, style, native origin and display elements. All three judges unanimously selected Suthin Sukolosvisit’s large Sargent juniper for The National Award for the finest bonsai in the exhibition.

All 12 award winning bonsai will be illustrated in the next new issue:


Each of the three judges also presented well attended lecture demonstrations. Suiseki authority Sean Smith shared his knowledge of suiseki. During the day free 30 minute critiques were given by Bjorn Bjorholm, Kathy Shaner, David DeGroot, Boon Manikitivipart Sean Smith, Kora Dalager and Suthin Sukolosvisit who volunteered their time and knowledge.

Apple Transcendent Crabapple

Jason Henderberg, a local club member is now producing 3D Virtual Tours of bonsai exhibitions, gardens, real estate and products. His business Virtually is the leader in 3D Virtual Tours. These well produced and photographed Virtual Tours really cool! To begin with, click on “play” and you can almost touch each bonsai as you travel down each aisle. Check it out, having this virtual 3D Virtual Tour makes the exhibition even more special:


The 2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition is now a pleasant and rewarding memory which happened because of volunteers and exhibitors who want to see bonsai expand in the United States. More photos in the next issue of InternationalBONSAIonline. A hearty thank you to everyone who helped, displayed their bonsai and joined us for a magical weekend, which we all deserved.