Get your entries ready for Rowan County Fair

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 28, 2009

By Carole Massey
Master Gardener
Meet me at the fair! The 58th Annual Rowan County Agricultural and Industrial Fair will run Monday, Sept. 21, through Saturday, Sept. 26.
The fair catalogues have been mailed to last year’s participants and are available at the fair office on Julian Road. There are also copies available at the Agricultural Center, Rowan Public Libraries and other sites.
These guidelines and rules for entering the fair are a must for any participant. All entry forms are due in the fair office by Friday, Sept. 11, at 5 p.m. No exceptions.
The Rowan County Extension Master Gardeners have several members who are directors, meaning they are responsible for taking the entries the Sunday prior to judging, organizing the section and assisting the day of judging.
They have offered the following suggestions for preparing entries for their categories. In Department C ó Horticulture: Fruits, Vegetables and Honey ó make sure the produce is in good condition. No insect damage, no soil on root crops, no soft spots. If an item calls for a certain number on a plate, make sure your count is correct. One more or one less disqualifies. Make sure the entry is uniform and consistent in appearance. Larger is not always better, unless the category specifically asks for the largest.
Department D ó Flowers: Please read the descriptions of the categories and understand the requirements before entering. All entries in the flower division specify live or fresh cut flowers with the exception of the single dried flower category. For example: you cannot enter a miniature arrangement made with dried flowers in the miniature arrangement category. If at all possible, use soil moist in container plants and water everything well before bringing in all containers and arrangements. Provisions are not made for watering any of the entries during fair week.
Department F ó Food Preservation-Fruits and Vegetables: must be processed in a boiling water bath. Please use proper clean canning jars with rust free lids. All foods must be this year’s crops, grown since last year’s ending fair date. Appearance of the pack is important. Labels should be neat, legible and placed on the bottom of the jar.
Preserves, Jams and Butters and Jelly have specific standards for each. Be familiar with all requirements for texture, consistency, pack, color and container. Pickles are judged on their size and shape, texture, color and pack-proportion of pickles to liquid. Judges can, and do, open and taste for comparison.
A general observation. If you think you are going to have an entry, no matter what the category or department, but aren’t quite sure, go ahead and enter. It is easier to enter and not have an item, than come up to fair time, have a magnificent specimen, and not have entered.
In all of these departments, there is a separate Junior Department for exhibitors under 20 years of age. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a child’s expression when he or she sees his or her entry with a ribbon. Well worth the price of admission to come the evening after judging just to watch the reactions of the spectators as they walk through the exhibit hall.
The Rowan County Fair is a much anticipated week for the agricultural community. All of the livestock shows, the FFA exhibits, the Field Crops, House Furnishings, Baked Goods, Clothing and Arts and Crafts take us back to a simpler, slower paced time. We all still know “how to do.” Taking the time to do it, well, maybe the fair is the encouragement you need.
Carole Massey is a Rowan County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, class of 1998.