Fair Worthy


Fair season begins tonight.  All entries for the Heath Fair have to be there by 8:00 p.m.  I finished the bear 10 minutes ago.

Every year as I’m doing whatever project I’m doing I always look at it asking if it’s fair worthy.  Does it meet my standards to be shown in public?  By people who know more about what I’m doing than I do?

This year there are 3 entries for the Heath Fair and the Big E.  The weaving I knew was worthy as soon as the wet finishing was done.  The bear . . . I decided to sew one when I filled out the entry forms weeks ago but didn’t even begin it until last week.

I have a lot of bears that I’ve made over the years but each entry to the fair has to have been completed since the last fair.  I pulled out materials that haven’t seen the light of day for years and started this little project.  I finished his face (so I thought) and put all of his joints together.  Stuffed his body and sat him on the table where I looked at him every time I walked by.  He was off – the eyes weren’t right, the ears were cockeyed, the nose needed work.  He was not fair worthy.  I didn’t want anyone to look at him and wonder “What hack made this?”.

I thought about not putting him in the fair at all but remembered I had until 8 to get there and knew if he didn’t go in there was a possibility of him spending years in a closet somewhere.  I moved his eyes, stitched down an ear in a better position and spent some more time on the embroidered nose.  I  kind of wished I’d photographed him before I fixed him.  He looked at me with gratitude when I took that last stitch and brushed out his fur.

I’m telling you it’s tough being a perfectionist who anthropomorphizes her stuffed animals.


By the way – Fair bear really could use a name, any suggestions?


140812 Back Forty Rain

Today is the kind of day weatherwise where time is spent (at least initially) regrouping.  We have been fortunate to have had a lot of rain over the course of the summer and most of it happened at night.  The gardens and even the potted plants needed little attention as far as moisture is concerned which left that much more time to pursue the heavy gardening that I wanted to get done.

Well, we are almost to the middle of August and there is sooo much more to do in the next week or so.  That is what is in the back of my mind but also this little voice is saying, regroup.  Tackle those indoor projects that can be done in less than an hour.  You know the ones – clean the refrigerator, wash a floor, scrub the stove.  No matter how much I don’t like these jobs they have to get done and no one else is going to do them – sigh.  Where are those elves when you need them?

This rainy, indoor day is also a blessing.  I need to get my things prepped and ready for the Heath Fair.  They need to be dropped off tomorrow night and there is still some finishing that needs to be done.  Three things are going in this year, weaving and a photograph.  The weaving needs to be pressed, the photograph framed (I printed it last night).  I’m not as confident in my blue ribbon prospects this year but it’s always fun to see your stuff on display.

Photographs are something I never, ever enter into anything.  I think they are so close to my heart that I don’t want to know that they aren’t as good as I think they are.  I guess I’m thin-skinned when it comes to opinions of how I see.  Be brave, take a step, just do it, what’s it really going to hurt?  So in it will go.

My weeks have suddenly filled with a weaving camp that I’m taking until the end of August.  Tuesday and Thursday mornings will be filled with rug weaving, a new skill. This is great for my brain because I’m a morning person, not so good for the other projects I wanted to get done by fall, choices will need to be made.

Now back to my lists. Maybe, just maybe that refrigerator will get cleaned out today . . . but there’s a warp on the board that is calling my name.

Heath Fair

120817 Heath Fair Banner

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.

130817 Heath Fair (4)

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.

130817 Heath Fair (5)

Blue Ribbon for my rug but the only other competition on this was a really beautiful woven rag rug.  Again, another difficult judging situation.

130817 Heath Fair (6)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.

130817 Heath Fair (8)

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.

130817 Heath Fair (7)You also get to see the teamsters in action.

130817 Heath Fair (3)

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.

130817 Heath Fair (2)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.

130818 Entries


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.