Growing up in the city in early summer we had what was called carnivals. There were rides like the swinging chairs (a wooden chair suspended from a disk by chains, that then rotated), ponies (get on and walk around in a circle, a small circle at that) and "stands of chance" where you could win dolls or toys by throwing something or knocking something down or popping a balloon. I remember the State Fair being advertised, but we never went, so I had no frame of reference of what a “Fair” was compared to a carnival.
My first visit to a county fair was not until I was nineteen; it was a sensory experience that is hard for me to describe; the smells, sounds, sights and feel was new and exhilarating. The main feeling I had at the time was that I was in a new world but an environment that I felt comfortable with a world of vitality, of aspirations and anticipation simple in its basic form and premise. Only later would I learn of the true complexities associated with the different facets of farming.
Everything was in sections. All the farm animals that the 4H’s were showing, the cows, goats, horses, pigs, poultry and sheep, all had their own houses. Children had sleeping bags in the stalls with their animals or next to their animals. Then there were different crafts that people made: furniture, picture frames, pictures, art, clothing, the baking section, canning section, jams, jellies and preserves. Anything that a person could make from hand was displayed and judged against others.
Our County Fair is going full tilt and I live in a household where one of us enters things into the fair's competitions. Late summer, early fall I go through the same ritual. My wife and I go to the fair and she enters her jams. This has been going on for a little over four years. She has never placed in all of her attempts but, God love her she keeps trying. This year was no different; we took the entries to the fairgrounds and entered them.
A few days later, we will attend our fair the Great Frederick Fair and see if any of her entries received any ribbons. What makes this situation worse is that our nieces and nephews have won various Blue ribbons for their cakes, cookies and other items at the Howard County Fair so the bar has been set.
Each year we go ready to take a picture of my wife near her winning entry. It has never worked out to be that way but it is still fun and exciting to go and see if she got a ribbon. She has been making jams and jellies with her mom for a bit and her jams sell well at the farmers market.
This year she decided to go to the Fair on Sunday with some of her family. The farmers market is still taking place so I went to the market Sunday instead of to the fair. As I was driving to the market, I had a fleeting thought, “Watch, she’ll win a Blue Ribbon this year,”. The farmers market went well, we had Mesclun mix that had come in looking beautiful and presented very well.
I got home, unpacked, put everything away and headed upstairs to clean the days grime off. My wife came home exhausted but elated. She did not get a Blue Ribbon but four of her six jams placed third. After the year we had with so many downs and a few ups’, it was poetic justice or maybe karma or divine intervention you be the judge. All I know is that it is the small things like family, friends, and little ribbons that make all the difference in the world once you come through the other end of a very challenging season.
Buy Local: You will find that your decision does make a difference to the environment