Sunday, June 03, 2007

What? Fair Time Already?!?

It's June, and the panic has set in--what am I entering in the county fair? This happens every year. I get busy with my life in general, June 1st arrives, and I suddenly realize two very important things:

1) I missed the deadline (for the umpteenth year in a row) for most of the "big" county fairs in my area; and

2) The deadline for our county fair is next week.

This year is no different than the past five. Once again, I missed the deadline for most of the big fairs in the Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin county fairs); the deadline for the Solano County Fair is Monday at 4:00 p.m.

Fortunately for me, this is just the entry deadline. If it was the actual deadline (June 16th for everything except baked goods), I'd be in real trouble. As it is, I just have to fill out the entry forms, and calculate what I can get finished before the actual deadline.

I'm the first to admit it: I like county fairs. Maybe it's because I'm not that far removed from the farm myself (only 2 generations), or that it's the one place where what you do is judged strictly on it's merits. Or maybe it's because it's the only time I allow myself to indulge in that gustatory disaster/delight known as a "corn dog" (preferably with lots of yellow mustard). I like to wander around, looking at all the jars of tomatoes, pickles, jams and jellies, watching the Ginzu knife guy saw through an aluminum can and then slice up a tomato, marvelling at the crocheted afghans, knitted sweaters, and embroidered quilts, and laughing at the antics of the kids and their prized sheep, goats, rabbits, and pigs. It's a pleasant rite of summer.

I got started competing in county fairs about 20 years ago when I entered and won my first blue ribbon for a jar of wine jelly. I was hooked! Since then, I've kept competing when I've had the time, and can now boast of a sizeable collection of ribbons, mostly blue, plus a bunch of rosettes for Best of Show, Reserve Best of Show, and Sweepstakes (given to the person with the most blue ribbons that year). I even won "Best of Class" a couple times at the California State Fair.

Last year, I started to branch out, in part because I do much more than make fabulous jams and jellies. I like to bake, so last year I entered some of my baked goods: just a couple breads and three kinds of cookies, just for fun. "Fun" turned out to be four blue ribbons. Last year I also entered a couple crocheted afghans as my first foray into the Needlework competitions and they both won blue ribbons. The final "take" after last year's fair was the Best of Show rosette for my Tecate & Lime Beer Jelly, the Reserve Best of Show rosette for my Cherry-Amaretto Jam, and out of 20 entries, 17 took ribbons (11 blue ribbons).

So, what should I enter this year? How many jams and jellies can I get made before June 16th? Do I have examples of my knitting, weaving, and spinning that can be entered? Will it be unbearably hot the days I have set aside for baking the baked goods entries? You'll just have to stay tuned to find out!