Back when I was young(er) with three little ones underfoot and a garden the size of a city lot, I managed to find the time to create entries for the Josephine County Fair. In 1984, the gnarled Italian plum tree in the back yard just wouldn't quit producing and I had just plum run out of ideas of things to do with them when I discovered a recipe for plum catsup in one of my mom’s old cookbooks. I won my first fair blue ribbon with that catsup and continued entering various experiments for years.
The year 2011 was the first time I became an exhibitor at the Del Norte County Fair. Being my first time here, I was a little gun-shy about entering jams, beets, pickles, green beans or other homemade delicacies from my pantry. I didn’t can them with the intent of entering a competition so I worried about what the judges would think of my abbreviated black marker labeling and the lids and rings that didn’t match.
I played it safe and entered a couple of photographs (no ribbons there) and a stalk of the beautiful sapphire blue borage growing rampant in my herb garden. I hit pay dirt with the borage and scored a red (second place) ribbon.
I found the whole experience of being an exhibitor at the fair very rewarding. Not only did I achieve recognition with my borage, but I got a big discount on my season pass, which saved me money.
A pass this year is $28. But with an entry in the fair you get a deep discount. An adult exhibitor gets a pass for $16. A junior or senior exhibitor gets that same season pass for only $8 — a savings of $20. Now, tell me it’s not worth it to enter something — anything — in our fair!
OK, you’re saying, you’re game, but what to enter? You don’t raise rabbits, grow tomatoes or decorate cakes. And you don’t know a dahlia from a dandelion. You’re not into canning, sewing or photography.
If you haven’t gotten your hands on this year’s “Exhibitors Handbook” you’ll need one to make your decision. The handbook was in the Triplicate earlier this month but there are plenty of extra copies available free at the fair office. You’ll find 32 pages of everything you need to know about every possible category you can enter and how to do it.
Here’s what I’m considering this time around: Division 101 Herbs, Class 6, lavender (I’ve got about a dozen plants but all you need is one bunch wrapped in a wet paper towel and enclosed in a plastic bag); Division 109 Scarecrows (there’s a $5 entry fee for this category but I think it would be fun to create a scarecrow like the cool one Carolyn Westbrook made two years ago. You can enter a scarecrow either as an individual or group); Division 160 Yeast Breads, Class 1, French bread (I’ll bake a crusty baquette); and Division 165 Cookies, Class 13 “any other cookie” (my lips are sealed on what variety I’m making).
There are dozens of other categories including Division 158 where you make “Our Favorite Recipe” (page 16 of the handbook). The recipe is provided and all you have to do is make the chocolate-chip-oatmeal cake and hope yours turns out better than anyone elses.
Not only will you get your discount, but when you enter you're supporting the "best little fair in the state of California." The tradition of a county fair is all about showcasing the goods and the talented good people in our community. Without entries to look at, there really wouldn't be much of a fair.
Our fair is August 2-5 this year. There are entry deadlines you have to adhere to (most are by July 14 or July 21), and receiving deadlines (the days and times you have to bring your entry to the fair). All these details are in the Exhibitors Handbook. Come by my office and I'll happily give you a copy.
Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate’s publisher, at email@example.com, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.