My photo of Vlad the Amur Leopard at the Manhattan (KS) Zoo won grand champion in the open class division at the Stafford County Fair last week.
It wasn't even on my initial list of potential fair entries. During the year, I make notes about photos I might enter at the county fair or use for a family birthday calendar project. (Type A, anyone?!)
the birthday post. But, as I was looking through photos I'd taken in the past year, I decided Vlad was more unusual than the cattle and kitties I normally photograph. What's another three bucks to print another 8 x 10? (And, I had a 60 percent discount!)
The "eyes" (Vlad's eyes, that is) had it, the photography superintendent later told me, and the judge selected it as Grand Champion.
And it just goes to show you: Judging in one person's opinion on one day. I heard that from my parents whether it was before 4-H foods judging or a league music festival.
I'm sure there were people who looked at the purple ribbon by Vlad's photo and wondered "Why that one?" If you handed ballots to fairgoers and asked them to choose their favorite, I'm convinced that a few photos would garner more votes than others. But it certainly wouldn't be a unanimous decision.
For me, it's just fun to enter. Evidently, old habits die hard.
I've been exhibiting things at county fairs since I was 10 years old. I was a fourth grader and a member of the Lincoln Bluebirds 4-H Club. My only project my first year was "Snacks and Little Lunches," a foods and nutrition project. According to my meticulous record book, my first fair netted a blue ribbon on cookies and red ribbons on both my cupcakes and brownies.
If my 4-H story is to be believed, I had a "lot of fun." In fact, several times, I had "a lot of fun." Perhaps my descriptive writing had not yet been developed.
But, at any rate, I evidently did have "a lot of fun." Here we are ... um ... several years later, and I'm still entering exhibits at a county fair.
All 4-H entries get a ribbon. But in open class divisions at the Stafford County Fair, only the 1st, 2nd and 3rd photos are selected in each class. Classes are divided into color and black and white divisions. Some of the classes were nature, people, landscape, agriculture, computer-manipulated, action, humor and human interest.
I ended up with four blues, three reds and five whites. About half of my entries didn't get ribbons at all.
Ag Day blog post about farm wife partners.
This one, which I titled "Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full," got a red in the humor class. I snapped the photo of one of our feeder calves as we were waiting for the veterinarian to arrive last November.
I also used my photos for my two entries in the Stafford County Fair's Arts and Crafts department. I entered two books in the online scrapbooking class. Though I don't think that's a particularly accurate description of what the books are, it's the category that fits.
blog posts about adventures with the girls in rhyme. Later, I put the rhymes and photos in books and give a copy to each of the girls (and keep one for myself, of course).
I never bring in enough prize money to cover the cost of photo mats, enlargements, book production, etc. So why do it?
People have been experiencing fairs since the days of the Roman empire (At least that's what Wikipedia - the authority of all things - told me). I suppose there's a little rush to being chosen "best" at something, satisfying that little kernel of competitiveness in the human spirit.
It brings volunteers together to work on something that's bigger than what any one person could accomplish on their own.
It's about being part of a community. I'll give that a purple ribbon any day.