Established in 1964 in North Kingstown, the Rhode Island Dahlia Society (RIDS) was initially comprised of 12 members who enjoyed growing dahlias and wished to spread the word about this beautiful flower. The first RIDS dahlia show was held at the University of Rhode Island greenhouses in Kingston. Approximately 50 blooms were entered. A dahlia show has been held every year since, except in 1991 when hurricane “Bob” caused the cancellation of the show with its 105 mph winds.
By 2005 – forty years after its inception – the Rhode Island Dahlia Society had grown to 180 members. Over 700 blooms were entered at the 40th annual show, held in the North Kingstown Community center. In 2006, RIDS members began working with the Preservation Society of Newport County’s Green Animals Topiary Garden, donating and planting tubers for a dahlia garden on their site.
A member of the American Dahlia Society (ADS) and the North Atlantic Dahlia Conference (NADC), the Rhode Island Dahlia Society continues to promote dahlia cultivation through public seminars and shows, informational meetings, tuber sales, and presentations by its members to garden clubs and other organizations. Members benefit from the collective experiences of the group, as well as through other educational opportunities, including workshops on such topics as tuber division, preparing tubers for winter storage, drying dahlia blooms, tips on entering and staging blooms for shows, becoming a dahlia judge, and identifying new dahlia introductions.