The Fair started for me Thursday evening when I dropped off my blanket and rug at the exhibition hall. There were helpers everywhere and you could feel the excitement building. They have this fair down to a science. I was given labels that were already printed with my name and category, I attached the labels to the corner of my goods with the name hidden and handed them off to one of the many workers with the checkered aprons walking around the hall. Then the waiting began.
For me part of the anticipation is not knowing what your competition is. How many people weave and put their work in a small country fair? I know many people hook rugs but are there any around here that do? Are they willing to haul them to a fair for a ribbon and maximum premium of $3.00?
Sister Sue and I made our way over about 10 AM Saturday. The fairgrounds were bustling with activity. We toured the sheep barn and the poultry/rabbit building.
We ran into our friend Russell who told me he only won second place on the rocking horse he had made for his grandson. (The only category it fit into was Craft Other – I’m glad I wasn’t judging that one). After catching up with them for a bit we went to the Exhibition Hall to see how I did. It took me a minute to figure out where the textiles were. I was also amazed at how many people brought things to the fair.
Blue Ribbon for my rug but the only other competition on this was a really beautiful woven rag rug. Again, another difficult judging situation.
Then a blue ribbon for the blanket – woohoo! There was a lot of weaving in the fair this year which actually surprised me. Who knew I was surrounded by weavers and didn’t know it? There’s another reason to compete at the fair – you get to know the competition and they are just like you.
Once we left the exhibition hall we made our way down the food lane and picked up some fried dough with Maple Cream from Hager’s Farm for breakfast (it’s sort of like a pancake right?). With food in hand we watched the herding exhibition – with ducks.
Then it was on to the main reason I was at the fair so early – Horse Draw. I always plan my fair visits around this event. The animals are stunningly beautiful and you can watch them doing what they are trained to do.
You also get to see the teamsters in action.
These horses are very similar to dogs (except in size). They are bred to pull, they have a job. It’s the trainers job to teach them how to do it. There are a lot of differences in how these horse’s people work with them and that’s the difference in how well they pull. Early on in the draw you have a sense of who will win just by how they are handled by their drivers.
The competition was light in the 3,000 pound category. There were 5 teams competing, 3 of the teams were from the same farm. There were 2 other fairs this weekend with horse draw competitions.
Honestly, one of the best parts of this event is sitting in the stand with all of the other interested parties. This is redneck farmers at its best. Horse people are an interesting lot (and sometimes a little scary to look at). They joked about small wagers on a particular team. Arguments ensued over who knows what and people were generous in their knowledge of the sport. One explained in detail how the draw was measured and how the timing of each pull was handled.
Then there were also teamsters helping out teamsters if someone was short for a particular pull (competitors, helping competitors). It’s all about the horses you see (at least to them). They apparently don’t know that we’ve figured out that it’s their work, their temperament that is really what makes their team perform at their best.
When the pull was over we went home. I returned later with the family – they wanted fair food for supper. We watched a little of the truck pull before calling it a day. The crowd was enormous – a sea of camouflage and dirty ball caps. For a people watcher this was gold.
For me the fair concluded last evening when I picked up my entries and winnings. I’ve concluded that the only way to see the fair is to compete in it. You have skin in the game and every one around you knows it. Now to start working on next years entries.