AGS National Guidelines

Below are the guidelines that the Jim Story Committee has developed for use by judges when examining entries in dried manipulated gourd and/or the Jim Story categories. These guidelines are optional for state/chapter competition but for consistency (state and national) Jim Story Judges, AGS Judges, and Show Chairpersons are encouraged to apply this point system. Questions arising from reading these guidelines should be directed to the Jim Story Committee Chairperson.


Judges have discretion in determining whether or not a gourd is considered perfect and to apportion points within each criterion according to their best professional judgment. Within each category, a “perfect” gourd could be awarded the maximum number of points. A lesser number of points reflects the degree to which the gourd did not meet the criteria for awarding the maximum number  despite being a good entry (perfection in nature is elusive).
Maximum Points
10 points
Cultural Perfection
10 points
     Innovation, Uniqueness & Originality
     Degree of Difficulty&  Skill level
75 points
     0-30 points
     0-45 points
Green Cleaning
5 points

1. Cleanliness: “Made clean.” All visible exterior skin and dirt should be removed from the gourd from the tip of the stem (if present) to the blossom end; including the inside surface of tight knots, spirals, coils, curves and bends. You should not be able to see any skin or dirt remaining on the gourd.

2. Cultural Perfection: “Free of blemishes or damage.”

3. Manipulation: “To manage or control artfully.”
      A. Innovation/Uniqueness/Originality: When all else is equal the most unique manipulation should score higher.
      B. Degree of Difficulty/Skill level: A successfully completed difficult manipulation will score higher than an easier manipulation. For example, a double knot would score higher than an overhand single knot. Judges have the discretion to apportion points among all criteria See Degree of Difficulty Guidelines below for additional information
4. Green Cleaning Scraping the outer skin off the gourd while it was still green is intentionally separate from cleanliness. Jim Story green-cleaned most of his gourds -- but that is difficult to do without the risk of the gourd drying too fast, shrinking and cracking. BE CAREFUL! (But Jim would want you to try).

Molds or Other Devices:
These may be purchased or individually crafted by applicant.
  • A homemade mold is more difficult and more unique than one which has been purchased.
  • If it does not enhance the appearance of the gourd, leaving a manipulation device on the gourd chould result in fewer points being awarded.

    Other Manipulation Techniques:

  • Number and tightness of coils: How many times was the gourd wrapped around a pole or other device?
  • The more wraps the higher the degree of difficulty.
  • A tight coil (coils touching or close together) is more difficult than a loose coil.

  • An overhand single knot is the least difficult to tie. Two wraps (go around the neck twice brfore tying the knot) is more difficult than wrapping it once. A figure-eight knot is more difficult than an overhand single knot.
  • A square knot is more difficult than an overhand knot or a figure-eight knot.
  • Two knots in one gourd are more difficult than any single knot.
  • Two knots straightened out (one above the other in the neck) is more difficult than two knots that are in the neck but not positioned one above the other.
  • Three knots would probably be a world record.
  • Involves scratching the surface of a growing gourd deep enough to cause scarring that forms a pattern still visible after the gourd has dried and the skin removed.
  • The finished gourd should be attractive with attention paid to the execution.
     Anything Else:
  • Could include twisting with a rope, stocking or other device.
  • Innovate
  • Surprise us!