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Danelle Cutting: Everything from apples to zucchini

When I tell people what I do for a living, I always get the strangest looks because it can be difficult to explain when I literally do nine million things.

I usually say that I deal with everything from apples to zucchini (hint: A to Z). Some days there are constants, such as farmers’ markets, reports, pesticide classes, meetings, fairs, etc. but usually, there are no two days alike.

Sometimes, I am in the office answering calls and drop ins. Other times, I am out doing crop yield checks, visiting clients, and sometimes even judging fairs.

For the past few years, my Extension Master Gardeners and I have helped judge fairs. We usually judge fruits, vegetables and flowers but every now and then, we’ll get a curve ball, such as field crops, honey, 4-H club booths or gardening clubs.

For those that do not get to see behind the fair scene, you may not understand what happens before the tickets are sold and the gates are opened. It is a lot of work, but I enjoy every minute of it.

This past Labor Day, while many people were off work, I was judging the Iredell County Fair. I have had the luxury of sacrificing this holiday for the past three years to judge their fair. I am not fond of giving up my holiday, but I really enjoy judging the fair and getting to see what they do with their agriculture sections.

This year has definitely taken the cake. Iredell County has changed some of their entries and this year, honey was in a separate category. They had a certified honey judge that tested everything from creamed honey to combed honey. It was fascinating to watch the judge check taste, whether the honey was over-heated, for crystals and impurities in the honey using a polariscope, and moisture.

I think I sat dazed with amazement, for at least 45 minutes, watching the judge work. They even had a display to showcase the honey. Many people do not realize that the judges need proper lighting and a polariscope to determine if there are any impurities in the honey.

I also found that the Iredell Beekeepers had an observation hive available for the public to see. There are a few different types of observation hives, but this one had a pipe tubing to allow the bees to forage and go outside of the building, not to cause a disturbance. Many of the on-lookers played a little game of find the queen.

Even though I have to sacrifice some of my time, I greatly enjoy getting to judge local fairs. Every year is different; you never know what you will find and learn.

It would also be a shame to talk about a fair and not mention our own. It will be here before we know it. The Rowan County Fair will start Friday, Sept. 25, and end Saturday, Oct. 3. Be sure to come out and see what’s new this year.

If you would like more information on fairs, beekeeping, or gardening in general please call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

For more information on fair entries or the fair in general, please visit this website: http://rowancountyfair.net/

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