And so begins Fair Week.
Lauren looks forward to this week more than any other week of the year. More than the first week after school lets out, more than spring break, more than Christmas – it’s the high point of her year. Tabitha enjoys it, I’m sure (who doesn’t?), but not as much as Lauren.
Me? I just try to make it from one end to the other without dropping anything important, which is most of how I go through life in general, really. There are projects to ride herd upon, animals to transport, plays to shepherd, and meals to plan – meals that are non-lethal only in the broadest possible sense, meals that revolve around deep-fried things on sticks and vats of fresh lemonade so large that they have their own weather systems (and discounted refills!).
This year I get to do it during the last week of my summer class, when the students are turning in two major assignments that need to be graded by the weekend. Because reasons. I’m just glad I got to teach that class again before Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) implemented his plan to end education in this state entirely. Timing is everything, folks! Remember: Sir Francis Drake was knighted for annoying the Spanish, but Sir Walter Raleigh was executed for doing the same.
We started Fair Week in earnest yesterday, when the judging opened. Judging runs for several days prior to the fair for all the non-animal projects (there are some animal projects that get judged before the fair too, such as cats, but they’re weeks or months before rather than days before). The relevant categories for us were Photography and Visual Arts.
Lauren does Photography. She’s remarkably good at it. She’s never failed to get a Blue ribbon on at least one of her entries, and twice she’s made it all the way to Merit, which is one notch down from qualifying for the State Fair. This year she had two entries – one in the four-photo category (buildings, landscape, people, animals) and one in the “my favorite photo” category.
Her favorite photo was of Norman, the tom turkey out at the barn. Lauren loves close-up shots, and this one came out quite well, I think.
For this she got a Top Blue ribbon, which is one step above Blue but not quite Merit. Honestly, Lauren and I both thought it was better than some of the ones that got Merit though not quite as good as the ones that got State. So goes it when judging is involved – it’s subjective. You give it your best and move on.
Her four-photo entry had the following shots:
My personal favorite was the buildings shot, just because the lines work out so well. It’s essentially unedited – that’s the view you get from Dolores Park in San Francisco, looking back out across the city – but masterfully framed. This project got a Blue overall.
From Photography we trekked over to the Visual Arts judging, which went vastly more smoothly and quickly than ever before. Visual Arts can sometimes take up to three hours or more, but this year we were in and out – including Photography, another occasionally slow project – in about 45 minutes total. So win for the 4H volunteers, I say.
Tabitha’s entry was a stuffed dragon. She spent most of the last fortnight working on this, doing everything from designing the pattern and picking out the fabric to sewing and stuffing. The horns are baked Sculpy, with holes carefully left in before they were baked so they could be sewn on like buttons. Each of the paws has fishing weights at the bottom to keep it from tipping over. And the eyes and swirls were all painted on.
She got a Blue for it, which was disappointing in the sense that she felt the judge didn’t take enough time to look at it fully. But a Blue is quite a thing, and she should be proud of it. I was impressed, let me tell you.
Lauren’s Visual Arts entry was a cloud sculpture. It’s basically three paper lanterns covered with pillow fluff and stuffed with LED Christmas lights, the lot of them strung from a bar. It’s a clever concept and she did a good job of it, but it wasn’t really her main priority and she got a Red for her efforts. It’s still pretty cool, though.
This morning Lauren, Kim, and I were back on the Fairgrounds bright and early to help set up the Rabbit barn. 4H swims in a sea of volunteers, and the place was crowded. We got all of the cages set up, and then our club set up its decorations (as did several others). We kind of know how it goes now, so it went pretty smoothly. Rabbit load-in comes on Monday night.
Fortunately the Poultry barn was already done by this morning, so we all got an extra hour to sleep.
We’re going to need it. It’s Fair Week, after all.