This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blue, red, or white?

The county fair is special for kids in 4H. A lot of 4H activity has the fair as its goal, the place where your efforts are judged and rewarded. If you do not belong to 4H, you can still enter fair competitions with the open-class categories. In past years, various members of my family entered just about every competition in open class, and several of them also entered projects in 4H competitions.

For open class, most entries are made on Saturday morning and judged in the afternoon. Here are some of the grand prize winners in sewing an quilting. When a family member was entering these competitions, there were several very talented ladies who made and entered a great many things, so the competition could be tough.
The floral division seemed smaller this year than when I used to enter. If you do enter things, it pays to come back and watch the judging. You then find out what it is that the judges are looking for. For example, if you have to enter five blossoms, you want five free from insect damage and as close to identical as possible. If you are entering a plant, the planter should be clean, and a decorative planter does not help your score and may hurt you. For a number of years I entered the garden competition. The common vegetables are always tough to win because there are always several entries. I am surprised to see two kohlrabi entries below because kohlrabi is not that common. The kohlrabi in the back got the red, probably because they did not have the roots neatly trimmed off, and they look sloppy as a result. I had the most success entering vegetables that no one else ever entered. My parsnips were pretty much guaranteed a blue ribbon every year. (I no longer grow them.)There are a lot of entries in baking, maybe because it is possible to make some money with these entries. First, there are small monetary prizes for first, second, and third place. More important, there is an auction for cakes and pies, and the entrant gets some of that money. For someone who enjoys baking, it is an attractive opportunity--fame and fortune.

Next door to the open-class competitions are the much more numerous 4H entries, most of which are judged before fair week. One thing I have noticed is that usually the entries in the 4H vegetable categories look better than the entries in the open-class vegetable categories. My guess is that is because most of the open-class entries are done by going out in the garden on Saturday morning and seeing what is growing. The fair entry is an afterthought, not the primary purpose of growing the vegetables, whereas the 4H entrants grew the vegetables primarily to enter in the fair, not to eat. Look at the size of those cabbages and beets!
There dozens of different things that can be done for 4H--collections, electricity projects, photography, lots of different poster projects, cake decorating, fine arts, woodworking, and much more. The dioramas attract attention. It is a class that I do not think was available when my kids were in 4H, because they would have loved to have done these.
Have you ever entered anything in the fair? If you did, was the experience good or bad?

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