Choosing Your Best Fair Exhibits

Win the Blue Ribbon

As the summer rolls on, it is time to start gearing up for the Lincoln County Free Fair! Each year our county fair sees hundreds, if not thousands, of indoor exhibits from quilts to canning to fresh vegetables to cupcakes. We see many common mistakes in exhibit selection, and I want to give you a few tips to ensure that your own fair exhibits have a fighting chance at a blue ribbon.

Canning: When I have been asked to judge canning exhibits at other fairs, I go through a quick process to weed out the worst exhibits first. Here’s how I do it: First, I take the rings off, then I check the seal and the headspace. These three things typically cut my exhibits in half. Next I look to make sure all the food is beneath the canning liquid, that the food moves easily when I move the jar and that the canning liquid is clear. If I still am trying to choose a winner between two or three exhibits, I look at the uniformity and attractiveness of the food itself. Is it cut in a nice way? Are all the pieces the same size and shape? Choose your very best jars to enter and hold them back from the pantry so you do not eat them before the fair. Clean them up if they are sticky. Make sure that everything about the jar is correct– seal, headspace, clarity of liquid…Follow my tips and you just may do better at the fair than you ever have!

Textiles/Construction: The three most common mistakes I see in this category are: dirty items, wrinkled items, and unfinished seams. When you are making a garment, bag, or quilt for the fair, do not use it before the fair happens. This runs a major risk of the item getting stained or damaged. Make sure you press your item (if the fabric allows) and make sure your seams are finished with a serger, pinking shears, binding, or a zigzag stich.  There are other techniques to finish seams, but these are the most commonly used. Use whatever finishing technique you like, just don’t leave it unfinished!

Baked Goods: If entering cookies or some other item that requires multiple pieces, make sure they are uniform in size and shape. Let baked items cool completely before placing them into bags for the fair. Putting hot items into an airtight container can cause condensation of moisture inside, which leads to either a soggy product or possibly mold growth. Taste you food before entering. You may not realize that you made a mistake just by looking at the product. Do not enter anything that is undercooked or overcooked.

Fresh Vegetables: Choose pieces that are uniform in size, color and shape. Choose pieces that are free from any blemishes or damaged areas. Choose pieces that look like something a savvy consumer would choose in a supermarket. DO NOT enter food purchased as a supermarket. The judges will know.

 

 

As the summer rolls on, it is time to start gearing up for the Lincoln County Free Fair! Each year our county fair sees hundreds, if not thousands, of indoor exhibits from quilts to canning to fresh vegetables to cupcakes. We see many common mistakes in exhibit selection, and I want to give you a few tips to ensure that your own fair exhibits have a fighting chance at a blue ribbon.
Canning: When I have been asked to judge canning exhibits at other fairs, I go through a quick process to weed out the worst exhibits first. Here’s how I do it: First, I take the rings off, then I check the seal and the headspace. These three things typically cut my exhibits in half. Next I look to make sure all the food is beneath the canning liquid, that the food moves easily when I move the jar and that the canning liquid is clear. If I still am trying to choose a winner between two or three exhibits, I look at the uniformity and attractiveness of the food itself. Is it cut in a nice way? Are all the pieces the same size and shape? Choose your very best jars to enter and hold them back from the pantry so you do not eat them before the fair. Clean them up if they are sticky. Make sure that everything about the jar is correct– seal, headspace, clarity of liquid…Follow my tips and you just may do better at the fair than you ever have!
Textiles/Construction: The three most common mistakes I see in this category are: dirty items, wrinkled items, and unfinished seams. When you are making a garment, bag, or quilt for the fair, do not use it before the fair happens. This runs a major risk of the item getting stained or damaged. Make sure you press your item (if the fabric allows) and make sure your seams are finished with a serger, pinking shears, binding, or a zigzag stich. There are other techniques to finish seams, but these are the most commonly used. Use whatever finishing technique you like, just don’t leave it unfinished!
Baked Goods: If entering cookies or some other item that requires multiple pieces, make sure they are uniform in size and shape. Let baked items cool completely before placing them into bags for the fair. Putting hot items into an airtight container can cause condensation of moisture inside, which leads to either a soggy product or possibly mold growth. Taste you food before entering. You may not realize that you made a mistake just by looking at the product. Do not enter anything that is under cooked or overcooked.
Fresh Vegetables: Choose pieces that are uniform in size, color and shape. Choose pieces that are free from any blemishes or damaged areas. Choose pieces that look like something a savvy consumer would choose in a supermarket. DO NOT enter food purchased as a supermarket. The judges will know.

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