A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I entered the fair with a few things... here's what happened.

I decided it would be fun to enter some canned goods into the fair and see how I could do against some locals. I immediately learned that the judges do not taste the product and that items are therefore judged by appearance. For most items, this means headspace, consistency, color, etc. Essentially, they are really looking at the "art of canning."

I labeled my entries with the required information: Item Name, Process used for canning (Water bath or pressure), Time processed, Date Canned.  Entries must have been canned since the last fair to be considered.

Jams and Jellies are expected to be plain and combination flavors (like my blueberry basil, chipotle peach, strawberries and cream, etc.) are only accepted in the "Any Other" class. You are allowed one entry per class.

There are 9 sections offered: Fruits, Jellies, Jams, Preserves, Vegetable, Juices, Relishes, Pickles and Meats. I entered 7 of those, omitting Preserves and Pickles, this time. ;-)

I dropped off 23 entries the night before judging and went home to try to sleep. I had taken the next day off work to spend at the fair with a great friend and was eager to see the results.

Here are my results:

First place:

Fruit - Pineapple Chunks in syrup (Also received the 2nd place Ball Fresh Preserving Award for the Fruit Category)
Fruit - Raspberries in Syrup
Jelly - Red Currant Jelly
Jelly - Black Raspberry Jelly
Jelly - Corn Cob Jelly ("Any Other" Class)
Vegetable - Tomatillos (Pressure canned, in the "Any Other" Class - Also won the first Place Ball Fresh Preserving Award for Vegetables
Meat - Venison

Second Place:

Fruit - Blueberries
Jelly - Grape
Jam - Blueberry
Jam - Peach Chipotle ("Any Other" Class)
Juices - Blackberry Lemonade ("Any Other" Class)
Relishes - Zucchini
Relishes - Spicy Zucchini ("Any Other" Class)

Third Place:

Jelly - Raspberry - Red
Jam - Raspberry - Red
Jam - Blueberry Peach (Multi Fruit Class)
Vegetable - Sweet Potatoes
Juice - Grape - I noted that the first place winner had the grapes still in their juice, so I will submit one done that way next year. (I had some in the pantry, but mistakenly assumed they wanted plain juice)

Did not place:

Fruit - Peaches - I noted that the winner had hot packed their peaches, and I always raw pack. This means mine float a little in the syrup, and the winner's entry did not.  I will have to try that next year!
Jam - Peach - the other entries had a much lighter color and smaller chunks of peaches. They looked pale and anemic next to the rosey color of my flaming fury peach jam. Maybe it was the peach type?
Vegetable - Spaghetti Sauce - This was an odd class. They all looked kind of the same. It was worth a try.
Relish - Salsa - I entered Peach Habanero, all other entries were tomato based. Mine was also in a half pint jar, rather than a pint. I suspect this, like other categories is devoted to traditional items.

More learning:

1. There are some classes that are not full of entries, so some classes are empty and others are awarded by default (no competition). To enjoy good competition, one must enter a more popular class.
2. It appears that the condition of the ring on the jar or writing on the lid do not figure into the judging at this fair. I actually went home and returned to the fair to swap a ring that had a spot of rust on it... only to find many winning entries with crummy looking rings and lids.  This is good information to have as I select next year's entries.

3. All fairs are NOT created equal. I've enjoyed this so much, I came home and read about other local fairs and their classes and requirements. It appears I entered the best possible local fair as far as entry requirements, drop off times and other stipulations are concerned. I may have been discouraged had I tried to jump the hoops of some of the other fairs on my first try.

While we were at the fair, we made a few friends (WARNING! THEY ARE VERY CUTE NEW FRIENDS!):

Momma Goat


Momma Cow,

Still-wet chicks


this handsome bunny man,

This Beautiful Bovine


Chrystie, the young miniature donkey,

Aggie, the very dog-like LaMancha goat with Burdock the Pygmy Goat,


this gorgeous bunny,

and, of course, many sleepy swines with smiley snouts!

Carrie adopted a new furbaby family member...

She milked a cow...

And we ate funnel cakes!

On Friday, Shane and Lexi and I headed to the fairgrounds so I could share the excitement with them, and watch Lexi experience her very first fair!
I am not a fan of the carnival style rides they offer, so I wandered through the still exhibits (making notes the whole way, learning from everything I could) while they partook in a few rides and marveled at the games along the midway.

As we were leaving, I had to say hello to the mounted police (mostly their horses)... and take the obligatory picture of the little one with said officers. Did you know the horses are sworn deputies and enjoy the same legal protection as the officers that ride them? Me neither!  So cool.

They are even issued badges...

Any big wins this week? Yes, indeed! The most important ones did not involve ribbons: hanging out at the fair with a dear friend (on a work day!), loving on some sweet barnyard babies, returning to the fair with my family to share in its treasures,  and "relish"- ing (see what I did there? ;-)) a few wins on my entries. I'd say that is time decidedly well spent!

1 comment:

  1. My wife and I have been wanting to get into canning, glad you did so well. Found your card in a cache, do hope your geo hunting is also going well.