Exibitors' entries at shows fall into six categories:
Award Ribbons: Gold - perfect blooms; Blue - 1st place; Red - 2nd place; Sweepstakes - most perfect blooms in class; Tricolor - best single or double in class; Best of Show - 4 divisions: single, double, miniature, seedling.
Membership in the AHS is not necessary in order to exhibit blooms at shows, but one must have a plant in one's possession for at least 30 days before a bloom from it may be entered in a show. Show up early with your blooms on show day and register at the table provided with forms for the four exhibitor classifications, along with the appropriate exhibitor cards. Figure out which class you fall into and sign up to get an exhibitor number. This number must be included on each exhibitor card you complete for each bloom you enter. All miniature blooms (blooms 5" or less) use the same exhibitor card regardless of one's exhibitor classification. Miniatures compete among themselves, not against the big guys. Bloom holders are provided and someone will show you the ropes. Blooms may be entered at most shows until 11:30 a.m. Bloom runners will take your entries to the judges' tables, where each will be judged as worthy of a Gold Seal or a Blue or Red Ribbon. All Gold Seal blooms become eligible for Head Table honors during final judging. Blue and Red Ribbons are awarded to blooms that are not quite up to perfect standards.
If one does not know the name of a cultivar, and inquiries of fellow exhibitors don't yield a clue, "Unlisted" may be written on the card for "Name of Variety."
In the Gold Seal room, off limits to all but show officials, the Show Director will group all Amateur singles together and all Amateur Doubles together. He will do the same for all singles and doubles of the other three classes. Miniature singles and doubles are also separated accordingly. During final judging of all Gold Seal blooms, a bloom from each exhibitor classification and configuration, along with a miniature single and double, receiving the most votes become eligible for the Head Table. There can be run-offs during this process. The votes for "Bests of Show" are taken from the ten blooms left standing. From the four singles judged "best of classification," the one receiving the most votes becomes the "Best of Show" Single. Same procedure is followed for doubles. The two miniatures (one single and one double) compete for "Best of Show" Miniature.
When a bloom receives the "Best of Show" award, the bloom in that classification receiving the second highest number of votes moves up to become the "Best of Classification," such as "Best Open Collector Single"or "Best Amateur Double."
Seedlings are judged as singles, doubles or miniatures and are not entered in exhibitor classifications. There is no move up of a second-ranking seedling bloom.
The Head Table consists of: Best of Show: Single, Double, Miniature and Seedling; Best Amateur Single and Double; Best Collector Single and Double; Best Open Collector Single and Double; Best Commercial Single and Double; Best Miniature Single and Double; Best Seedling Single, Double and Miniature; Sweepstakes for each of the four classifications (those exhibitors winning the most Gold Seals in their class).
When a hybridizer chooses to name a cultivar, it should be registered. A complete and accurate description is required for registration so that, when judged, the judges will have a guide to tell them how the bloom should look. To aid in identification of the cultivar, leaf and bush habit are part of the nomenclature. Here is the form (PDF) that the hybridizer completes and sends for registration.