Thoughts on the Big E Experience

130930 Big E Ribbons


I just went to the fairgrounds to pick up my entries to the Big E.  It closed yesterday.

The fairgrounds the day after the fair closes are complete chaos.  It’s filthy and crowded – not in a good fair kind of way either.  The street sweeper actually swept right up against my car just before I got into it to leave.  There was trash everywhere.  It is interesting to see the dirty underbelly of this huge fair in the broad light of day – makes you want to stay home.  It could be because the smell of fair food was not there, that’s what draws you in.  All you smell is sausage and peppers, french fries and fried dough.  This morning it smelled of manure.

I knew I won first and second place for my weaving because daughter Cait had gone the first few days and sent me photos while she was there.  You gotta love modern technology.  I didn’t know that every single entry comes back with a critique from the judge – excellent.   The evaluation is based on eight criteria – Design, Materials, Creativity/Originality, Color, Technique & Workmanship, Condition, Finishing and Appropriateness of design to submitted work.  On the red and white Maltese Cross all aspects were checked excellent except for Design and Creativity/Originality.  My assumption is it has to do with it being a traditional design in a traditional color scheme, they’ve seen it before.  The scarf on the other hand the judge apparently didn’t like my color scheme at all.  Design and Creativity got a fair, Color got a needs improvement and appropriateness was good.  Everything else was excellent.  I can weave well but the comment really told the story – “The color stripes interfere with the pattern.  Very well executed.”

This actually made me laugh a little.  I got a ribbon (because they don’t have to give you one) and a good one at that.  The judge just hated the color.  Maybe I should pass on using a variegated yarn on my next overshot project.  Then I thought “that is soo subjective, just because the judge doesn’t like my striped overshot doesn’t mean I don’t like it”.  I already have plans for another overshot project (or two) using variegated yarn so the comments won’t stop me. I just may not enter something like that next year.  It’ll be a crazier and a more radical departure from tradition but will be executed so well that they will have to acknowledge it.  Never try to discourage a person like me when it comes to something I think is working.


Agricultural Fairs

130528 Weaving (1)


The Heath Fair is coming up and I decided to enter a few things in it this year.  The overshot coverlet is one of them.  When I was a kid I would enter the fair every year.  I loved going there and seeing my things on display and winning ribbons.  They have premiums as well and the amount has not changed since I was 10 years old.  First – $3.00, Second – $2.00, Third – $1.00.  It has never been about the money – it’s about the ribbon.  Heath is still one of the best agricultural fairs going in my opinion.  It is very small, it has all the best fair food, they have a horse draw (which is my favorite event – especially with my camera), and they have a good, but not overwhelming competition going for all of their crafts, canning and livestock.  I also enjoy visiting people I’ve know for a lifetime but only see now at the fair.

The interesting thing about the fair is that everything that is entered has to be made in the time between the end of the last fair and the beginning of this one.  When it comes to canning and pickling that puts a bit of a time crunch on the maker.  I made the pickles last week, it will be the only canned good that will go in.  The weaving obviously has been completed and I entered a small hooked rug.  The other thing I entered is “Category: # 18  “Best Confection or Baked Good made with Maple Syrup”.  I have NO idea what I’m making and that may be the one thing that falls by the wayside.  You see, with entering things in the fair you have to register well in advance – no registration, no entry.  Fortunately they do online registration now so I just picked some categories and entered.

The day after registering for the Heath Fair my weaving instructor sent out an email asking her students to consider entering some of their weaving in the Big E because weaving was a category that was in danger of being dropped due to a lack of participation.  This fair is HUGE.  It is the Eastern States Exposition, goes on for days and the competition is stiff, especially in livestock.  I was unsure if the quality of my weaving would even be up to standards for this fair, I didn’t want to be embarrassed.  I got an “are you KIDDING?!” when I expressed my doubts so I entered two items.  If you’re an entrant you receive two entrance tickets and a parking pass – can’t go wrong with that – parking alone can be a deterrent for me.

The thing is I entered a piece that isn’t even on the loom yet.  I warped it last weekend only to find out that I had threaded it wrong, after unweaving about 5 inches I discovered I hadn’t counted my warp threads correctly so I had to really start all over again.  Bummer.  Guess what I will be doing this weekend.  I see it as the ultimate challenge – a 72″ overshot scarf in tencel and wool done from beginning to end in 3 weeks (maybe a little less).

Challenge accepted.