WINDSOR — Tall spikes of ruffled and smooth gladiolus in riotous and delicate colors gained the admiration of Joline Frecker of Augusta, who couldn’t resist softly touching a flower because of its velvety-looking texture.

The large round table held the “People’s Choice,” where Windsor Fair attendees could select and then vote for their favorite among the numbered but otherwise unidentified varieties of gladiolus.

Along the Exhibition Hall walls and down the center aisle, more gladiolus bloomed, some as single spikes, others as identical trios, still others fashioned into baskets or serving as centerpieces for holiday-themed arrangements.

The Gladiolus Show and competition Sunday afternoon was one of the many features of the opening day of the Windsor Fair, which runs daily through Labor Day.

Thomas Foster, president of the fair’s executive committee, said he’s hoping for another banner year like last year, where he estimated 100,000 people attended.

“I hope it’s even more,” he said. “We have lots of harness racing and entertainment daily.”

He also noted that fireworks will be Wednesday this year, immediately following the performance by Yellow Brick Road, the Elton John Tribute Band. New to the fair this year is a moose-calling contest set for 5-6:30 p.m. Friday.

Back at the annual Gladiolus Show sponsored by the Maine Gladiolus Society, Frecker said she and Dawn Charest, also of Augusta, vote for a favorite gladiolus every year. Charest was enamored with the smaller, purple ones and trying to choose among them.

“I have some in my garden out front,” Frecker said. “They haven’t done well this year.”

The bulk of the spikes on exhibit came from Cates Family Glads in East Vassalboro, a commercial grower that also produces other flowers along with 150,000 gladiolus annually.

“It’s a dying art,” said Paul Cates, 91, the family patriarch, “but we try to keep going.”

He got his start through an uncle who was a florist in the ’20s and ’30s. “I raised my first glads when I was 10,” he said, pointing out the rose-colored gladiolus that was his mother’s favorite.

In the early 1960s, while working in Germany where he had a gladiolus farm that backed up against the Berlin Wall, he met the woman who later became his wife, Elisabeth Cates. She grew up in what was then East Germany and already had a love of gladiolus.

“In East Germany we had sandy soil and we didn’t have flowers like these here,” she said on Sunday as she reached into a tall container to select another spike to display.

Audrey Pottle of Benton brought her gladiolus as well. She grows eight 50-foot rows of them, selling some at her roadside stand.

Arthur Mosher, whose family raises about 10,000 bulbs on their farm on the Liberty/Palermo line, said the fairy glads are the smallest, where a blossom is almost as small as a dime. Others grow much larger. “I’ve had them up to 500 across,” Mosher said, using glad-speak for flowers that can be 5 inches in diameter. Some of the spikes reach to 6 feet.

By 5 p.m., they all would be gone, whisked away so another exhibit could come in.