Poll

Do you enter sewing/knitting/needlework in a fair?

Yes
Yes, but I keep thinking about stopping
No, I never have
No, but I used to
No, but I've never thought about it

Author Topic: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!  (Read 5619 times)

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Offline Lisa

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Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« on: July 21, 2006, 07:00:29 PM »
This is a topic that started as an off-the-cuff comment in another thread and developed into something of a separate discussion.  Since most of the entries include discussions on both topics, I can't separate them, so I've copied the "fair" portions of that thread here, so the conversation can continue...and thought a poll about whether we do or don't enter fairs would be interesting!

The original thread started when this off-the-cuff comment also got responses:

I need to finish this by monday.  I'm entering this jacket in the Wisconsin State Fair, and all that is left is the buttons/buttonholes.  It's been a UFO since March 2005!!! 


Linda:  great good luck with your entry!!  Goooo, Linda! 

Some concerns about administration and judging of the fair classes for sewing...

Good luck in the fair!  I'm doing a little last minute fair sewing too, but am not entering nearly so many things after finally becoming fed up with their judging methods.  I used to enter a lot anyway, to help support the fair, and the thinning ranks of garment sewing entries, but after last year, I guess they're not interested, so I'm not either. ::) 

good luck in the fair!

A note that fair entries for sewing seem to keep getting smaller...

liana -- i'm not sure how judging works here, though i know of people that get frustrated with it.  i never go (always mean to, just never works out).  i try and support them and the home ec stuff, but each year the # of categories gets smaller and smaller.    :(  this year i decided to enter 4 items, but i think i'll only get 2 in.  it's been so hot i just haven't wanted to sew.  as of now i have a bag and this jacket to enter.  if i can get a top done by monday, i'll also enter a skirt/top combo.  we'll see.  my MIL is here from Phoenix, so we've been doing a lot of stuff. 

And a response that the judging could be part of the problem!

Caution:  Rant ahead. ;)

Linda,  Heavens, we're not allowed to watch the judging! :o ::)  Apparently the judge would melt if overlooked.  What annoys me is that there are no comments.  They used to have the judge's helpers write comments while the judging was occurring, but now they only do it if the judge requests it, and I guess they don't care either.  That wouldn't be so bad, but I've have perfectly wonderful things (if I do say so myself) be given 3rd place, and NOTHING gets first or second.  I consider that a real slap in the face.  And of course, nothing to say why they did this, although I've had this happen, and gotten only rave comments from the judge on my garment.  It's very weird.  I finally spoke to the superintendent (same one for probably at least 30 years) and suggested that perhaps they were discouraging people from entering if nothing else, and she just laughed and said that's part of the fun of the fair.  We don't even get premiums anymore, so they're not doing it to save money (although what we used to get was laughable anyway.)  I have felt that it ought to be done like most other departments, and be judged and placed by what's entered, not by some judge's unknowable idea of what the perfect first place item would be, if someone had happened to enter it.  They wonder why they have fewer entries every year, but I think some of us could tell them.  They have had the same knitting judge for years too, and she apparently is crazed for blue items.  They win.  I wonder why I bother sometimes, but DH's family has always been very active in the State Fair, and so I continue.  They like my men's shirts, but the rest of it can be a real toss-up.  I've almost decided to just enter a shirt this year, and maybe one sweater, as it just annoys me for the whole fair otherwise.   :P ::)

A comment from a sometimes fair judge...

As to the judging - I've done a lot over the years and always comment. As to not giving a first; I think that at this sort of county level where one of the aims is to encourage people to enter then its important that there's a winner. Maybe only the best of a bad lot, but still the best.
I always try to find something encouraging to say - even if it's only to wish the entrant better luck next year.

I've often been called on to judge baking and preserves as well which, of course means tasting. There's nearly always an audience of sorts and I've had to watch my facial expressions really carefully!

Anyway, good luck to all of you entering goodies to the shows...may the judges be wise and fair.

elicited similar concerns...

oh rant away, liana.  i've seen things get second or third, with no first place awarded either.  at least here, we can watch judging, and i understand that the judges talk while they are judging a lot.  you aren't allowed to talk to them during judging, but after a lot is judged, you can ask questions.  i still don't understand how they place things, though. 

i guess a judge gushed over a blouse i made, then saw a 'stain' on it.  so it was disqualified.  i couldn't find the stain, and i think i sent the blouse to kathryn, since i didn't wear it much anyway.  last year i did really well, but it helped that i had my brother's wedding to sew for -- most of the stuff i entered was from that. 

i don't enter the knitting or quilting. 

i do get sad to see fewer and fewer entries each year.  all the home ec stuff (sewing/knitting/crafts/cooking/canning/etc) is becoming such a dying art. 

and a note on premiums, or lack thereof...

oh, i forgot -- we still get premiums.  depending on the lot, it's $4-6 for first place.  it's getting more expensive to enter:  $6 for 5 items.  i think it was $4 last year, and $2 the year before that.  they don't print a premium book anymore, everything is available only online. 

this year the food will be displayed in a completely different building than the rest of the home ec stuff. 

i'm only 36, but i'm sad to see the fair turning more commercial.  maybe commercial isn't the right word, but to me, a state fair is a place to showcase the state:  the farm animals, 4H stuff, the home ec, DNR, horticulture, etc.  not the millions of hawkers selling squeegee mops, ginsu knives, salad choppers and what not.  yeah, that's part of any fair too, but that stuff seems to be taking over. 

i won't even take the kids to the midway (they know, mama does not 'do' rides), and we go early in the day, to avoid being there later when the drunks start coming out. 

and another perspective from another fair judge..

A couple of years ago I was asked to judge the quilts at our regional fair and it was one of the most difficult things Iíve ever done!  I had to go through about 75 quilts in 4 hours. There were a few categories where I opted not to award a first or second place ribbon because there were guidelines and requirements on the entry forms that had not been met and I was instructed to make sure they fulfilled the requirements first.  Many people entered quilts in the wrong category entirely.  I was not allowed to move them so they didnít meet the requirements.  Sometimes the quilts looked wonderful from a short distance but upon closer inspection, the workmanship was below par.  Judging is, of course, very subjective but most judges attempt to do the best they can within the guidelines they are given.  After my experience, I have a new respect for judges at shows and fairs.  Itís a hard and often thankless job. 

concerns with the commercialization of fairs...

I know what you mean about the WSF being a zoo!  I used to live in Milw. and HATED going to the fair b/c of all the comercialism...I did sing at the state fair when I was in high school up in Appleton, but that was 24yrs ago!

I used to be a county fair participant, as entrant and demonstrator in the home arts. Years ago they stopped giving premiums so I stopped entering. It wasn't clear what the (not trivial) entry fee was paying for, since I think the judges were all volunteers, and it's a long drive using lots of gas to drop off and pick up items at the fairground. Now you pretty much only see things from kits entered, almost no original work, and most of what's displayed is from a few elementary classes with obviously exceptional teachers.

There was a peak of commercial displays and selling booths about 10 years ago, but even that has fallen off a lot over the last few years. The homebuilders' association schedules their spring expo for the same time as the fair and the more successful commercial enterprises moved there. It seems like most of the attendees now are young families and teenagers who come for the midway rides.

Fortunately the livestock part of the fair seems healthy. Thank goodness that southern Arizona is still rural enough that the 4H-ers carry on! Families come from out of town and stay for days while their kids are showing animals. I love to watch the sheepdog trials and the group roping competitions, and see the homemade jams and baby goats and all that good stuff. But I predict that this fair may not last too many more years.

There you have it!  It looks to me like there might be more, and those who are interested, might not have found it where it started...

So do you enter fairs?  Did you used to enter fairs?  Why/why not?  Opinions on admin/judging?, etc? Tell us what you think!

Enjoy!

Lisa
Found: a favorite silver bracelet that I hadn't seen for a while.  On its four quarters it says "Welcome Introspection; Accept Wisdom; Seek Illumination; Embrace Innocence."   It's like a "magic 8-ball" on the wrist...

Offline mamafitz

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2006, 08:28:41 PM »
i voted "yes" i enter fairs.  while i don't specifically sew for the fair (though, like now, i try and finish things for the fair!), i try and do my best sewing year-round, so that when the premium book comes out (via the web), i can just choose from my closet.  sometimes that's hard, because if something is soiled/stained, it's automatically disqualified.

like i wrote earlier, though, i do get a bit sad when i go to drop things off.  there are less and less categories, less and less entries, and less and less younger people.  the department gets less and less $ for their thing, so here they stopped printing the books and went online.  i went to the iowa state fair last year, and they had a really cool thing:  one of the categories was designing a quilt block.  if you entered, you were given a set amount of fabric (i think a local shop donated the fabric).  you designed and made your block, and it was judged.  all the blocks were on display.  then, some volunteers take all the blocks, and make quilts from them.  the next year, the quilt(s) is raffled off -- $1 gets you a raffle ticket.  they said it makes a good amount of $ for their department.  of course i bought some tickets!

anyway, i started entering our state fair after looking at the entries year after year and thinking "i can do better than this".  since 1998 i've missed one year (the year my dad died).  i have quite a few ribbons sitting in a shoebox.  :)
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Offline Laurie

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2006, 02:18:20 PM »
When I lived in OH, I spent a lot of time at local fairs, first as a 4-H member, then advisor.  I was not allowed to compete in open class sewing there as an adult because I was considered a professional as a home ec. teacher!  Don't know if that has changed now or not.  That was 20 yr. ago.  In NC, our local fair is all midway and no 4-H as far as I can tell, I have seen judging results for produce, nothing else.  Funny about judging - my very first 4-H project was the old standard tea towel.  The judge complimented me on the neatness and invisibility of the stitches but wondered why I sewed backwards!  She then carefully re-taught me to hem and I followed her direction.  Ten years later, my first sewing project in college involved hemming a skirt, and you can guess, my instructor asked me why I hem backwards! The moral to me was it really doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you end up at the right place! ;)

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Offline Ann

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2006, 03:09:01 PM »
I did fairs years ago when we lived in another community. It was very competitive and a lot of fun. I spent many months sewing for it and then canning and baking. I remember getting up at 3 a.m. to do some of the baking and getting my flowers and veggies picked and ready on entry day. We entered dairy cattle also. We did very well at the local fair - some years I put in 30 items, maybe more and DH put in 10 to 12 items. My mom put in 8 or 10 and my MIL put in 30 items also. We would go home with lots of ribbons and many comments. The little book we got told us what to put in and then we would get another book on standards from the Dept. of Ag. That little fair was held on Labor Day weekend (still is going after 50 years). The following weekend we would head out to another fair about a 2 hour drive away to look. We would get ideas for the next year in our local fair and to ooh and aw over the workmanship there. We quit our local fair when we moved away and heard that it has dwindled over the years though it is still going.

Where we live now, they also have a fair in conjunction with the pro-rodeo and small midway. I went once to look at the sewing, quilting, canning, etc. and was disgusted with their facilities. A bunch of small shacks that were dirty and I refuse to put my handwork into dirty buildings. A lot of other people feel the same way but it seems as if the people who put this on don't really care. They get tons of $$ from the rodeo and are always making money. There is another fair about 30 minutes drive from us I am going to check out next year to look at the sewing and quilting and the buildings. Maybe there but I will have to wait and see.

Judging is a huge thing. After teaching Home Ec for 3 years, I have found that there are many things to look for. It is a shame that judges won't give comments as they do help a person grow in their workmanship. A couple of sentences will help out considerably. I remember the comment on my wedding dress - the lining was in the wrong way. We didn't even notice it until the judge commented on it. Mom still got 1st prize as it was the best in the class and she got it for the best of the show. The lining had french seams in it - mom's little signature for linings and she put in 50% more time on that dress than necessary so it would be perfect. We laughed for years over the lining though.

Would I go back to competing -maybe. Now I want to know how clean a building is prior to putting my items in. I also want to see how items are displayed after they are judged. The bigger fair we went to had all fabric items encased in glass - the fair committee put a lot of money into how fabric items were displayed and I really appreciated that. Not everyone can do that but I don't want them handled to death and I get them dirty after the show.

I would love to encourage young people to enter into fairs. The young girls I taught were wonderful sewers and could do well in fairs but they don't do their local fair. I am not sure why even though we talked about it. I was willing to do all the leg work for them but it was still a no. They didn't even go to the fair to see what was displayed though the local 4-H calf club was involved in it. I know the young people don't enter in our local community because sewing and quilting is not offered in the schools. There is a Kids Can Sew Club at the local quilting store but classes don't go during the summer. It would be fun to have sewing classes during the summer and then put it into the fair. I am not going there as the owner would probably be very angry at me for taking away her business (in her mind)

The upside of competing in the local fair is improving your workmanship. My sewing improved dramatically over the years from competing at our local fair. I also learned how to do other crafts and entered into hand embroidery, crocheting, and knitting. They were all crafts I did at night during the winter. I learned how to can fruits and veggies and to make them look perfect in the jar. It also gave me time to be with my MIL as it takes a lot of time to do these jars and we canned together at my house to do our "fair" canning. It has taught me skills that I will have for the rest of my life.

Ann
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Offline doobee

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2006, 11:32:49 PM »
Well, as usual, I am "late to the dance" ;)  Nobody has posted here since July, but I was browsing and this looked interesting. I did enter something in the county fair, I think it was and elastic waist skirt and maybe a blouse, (I might be getting this mixed up with Home Ec). My mom was a leader for the girls 4-H at the time, so that is why I did, I'm sure I never would have otherwise. And I can only remember doing it once. Can't remember any ribbons, probably got something for entering. Then when we lived in Napa, CA, for some reason I entered a crocheted rug :o  I think I got a red ribbon for that, which is astounding because I had only been crocheting for a very short time and I know it wasn't all that good, it was oval and I had a heck of a time getting it to lay flat. I think the reason I entered was because I was doing a lot of baking at the time, I made all our bread and some sweet roll-type things. I got some blue ribbons for that.

My DD is a 2nd grade teacher. She is job-sharing now (I never heard of such a thing but it means she works 2 days one week and 3 days the next week). Anyway, she is home schooling our 5 yo DGS for Kindergarten.  They were studying butterflies and for a project she had him do one of those stepping stone mosaics in the form of a butterfly.  She entered it in a small local fair and he got a blue ribbon for his age group, although I think they probably all got a blue ribbon ;D  He was so excited.

So, that's the whole of my fair entering experience.

Dorothy

Offline fzxdoc

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2006, 11:39:52 PM »

Well, as usual, I am "late to the dance" ;)


Maybe you just stayed too long at the fair, Dorothy!    ;) ;D 

Thanks for the cute stories; they were fun to read.  I bet your grandson was in 7th heaven to walk away with a blue ribbon!

Offline Lisa Laree

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2006, 03:00:03 AM »
Sigh.  If there is a real State Fair in Alabama, it must be in Montgomery and not publicized up here in the north part of the state; in the 26 years I've lived here I've never heard of one.  There is a 'Northeast Alabama State Fair' that runs here in town...it is sponsored by the Jaycees and is primarily a large midway, period.  I have heard rumors that there is...or used to be...a tent for exhibits.  However, in all the promotional items for the fair, nothing but the midway rides is mentioned.  Needless to say, I've never ventured over.

But the Indiana State Fair was an *event* when I was growing up.  I'm not sure it's what it used to be anymore; I haven't been since DD was not quite two (19 years ago).  I miss elephant ears and salt water taffy; the southern equivalent of elephant ears are funnel cakes, but they're just not the same.  ::)

As to exhibits, my grandmother and aunts frequently showed items at the State Fair...and frequently won ribbons.  When I was at the fair the last time...1987...Dad took us to the horticultural building to look for 'Grandma's tomatoes'.  That surprised me, because grandma died the year before.  But apparently she had exhibited a particular type of cherry tomato a number of years earlier that she had saved from seed who knows how long ago, and continued to save seed each year.  The cherry tomatoes, exhibited 15 or so on a plate, would win champion ribbons...and all be gone before the fair was over.  Apparently, folks were swiping the tomatoes and taking them home for the seeds!  Sure enough, when we looked that year, there were several plates of tiny, round cherry tomatoes just like the ones my grandmother grew... 8) 
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Offline doobee

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2006, 03:48:14 AM »
Yes, fzxdoc, that's probably it..."too long at the fair" ;D  And reading over my post I see that I didn't specify that the skirt and blouse deal would have been when I was around 12 or 13, about in 1948, and was in Kane County, Illinois. The Napa County deal was in about 1974 and I was married and had 5 kids by then.

Lisa, love your story about 'grandma's tomatoes'.  How can people do stuff like that ::)

Dorothy


Offline fzxdoc

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2006, 12:12:12 PM »
Lisa, what a lovely story.  Your grandmother' tomatoes were certainly on that judging table, probably for years to come.  In this case, it was probably a good thing that some of them went missing from that display table when your grandmother was alive, because, although grown by others, it was her original "find" that kept reappearing year after year.  One more way for her to live on.

Offline Terri B

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2006, 07:43:32 PM »
I entered my first hand quilted wall hanging about 10 years ago in our county fair.  I won an Honorable Mention which pleased me the first time out.  However, after looking at the quilts that beat mine it became quite apparent that whoever was judging the quilts knew next to nothing about quilting.  There were some beautiful quilts which were well constructed and quilted that got nothing.  In fact one woman I know exhibited the same quilt in two different county fairs.  At the first fair (not ours) her quilt took first in it's category and she said the competition was much stiffer there.  At our fair it didn't even place in the same category!   :(  It has been the topic of much conversation in our guild.  The guild has offered to judge or at the very least train their judge in what to look for in an award winning quilt.  To date they have continued to decline our offers.  At this point none of the guild members enter their quilts in the fair because they know they will be judged without rhyme or reason. AND they let people in the building with food! :o  You know little kids with drippy ice cream cones, cotton candy etc.  Oh well, I guess it's the fairs loss since entry isn't free.  I think the livestock is the only thing keeping ours going. ::)

Offline Liana

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2006, 01:08:03 AM »
TerriB,  I think a lot of times the same people have been in charge of an area, such as Needlework or Quilting, for a very long time, and they seem to think that if they make any changes or take any suggestions offered, it will show that they've been doing it "wrong" before now.  ::)  They don't seem to understand that times change, and they'd better move a little with the times, or they're going to be left in the dust.  Sounds like your local fair needs some new blood, or at least new thinking.  We have a similar situation with our State Fair.  Same superintendent since my DGM's time, and I'm not kidding!  She's still using some of the same judges too, I think.  The quilts have "broken free" and seem to have better judges, classes, etc. but the regular needlework is stuck in a rut.  I hate feeling like a chronic complainer, but they will not change anything, and yet they continually bemoan the fact that they don't get more entries.  You've got to wonder who's crazier; them for doing the same thing and expecting different results, or me for continuing to enter and hoping they're going to change.  Oh well, maybe I can wait her out! >:D :)

Offline shaelawnsmom

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2011, 01:05:42 PM »
Hi there, I am new to this web-site. I enter the fair almost every year. I do it for kicks. Last year I placed 2nd and 3rd for a skirt and dress, child size. I don't care about the judges or how they judge. I do it for me and if I walk away with a ribbon, more power to me!!!! Lost behind the California Redwood Curtain. Erica

Offline marciae

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2011, 01:14:29 PM »
First time I've seen this thread!!  I used to judge beginning 4H sewing.  Lots of fun.
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Offline NotKateHepburn

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2011, 06:46:45 PM »
For anyone wondering, Alabama does have a state fair, it use to be in Birmingham proper but I think it's in Pelham now. For 4-H, home dec, photography, any needle arts and food you need to enter the Alabama National Fair in Montgomery. It's a non profit org and all proceeds go to charity. There are prizes for placing,  plus contests in addition to the reg fair entries. There is a sewing contest :-) You can do just the contests if you like.

You can see last years pdf here to get an idea of what is what:
http://www.alnationalfair.org/home/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=42&Itemid=85

We went every year for 4-H and I did enter produce one year. With 7 kids doing 4-H though I really didn't have time to do much else most years.

I found our judges to be fair and nice. They always left comments and were up for questions after. I can't speak highly enough about the 4-H judges, wonderful folks who very much enjoy doing what they do with the kids.

I haven't done the state fair here, too far away. I'm was thinking about doing the county fair and then the three youngest wanted to do 4-H again. So, I'm back to helping do flea treatments on chickens and doing fun runs in the heat  ;D

Offline LauraTS

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2011, 08:28:04 PM »
I've been pondering entering a garment or a quilt to our county fair this year - went last year and the items were nice, but particularly in the garment section there wasn't much variety at all. I need to decide soon, I suppose!
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Offline lydia

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2011, 10:50:33 PM »
I am the coordinator for the Adult Open Class at our county fair.  Since I am a garment seamstress,  a relative good quilter, and a 4H clothing judge, I keep current on all the nuances of the fiber arts.  We use a qualified quilt judge who will also help in other areas (crafts, fine arts, etc.).  We cannot afford to hire all the judges, therefore we use cooperative extension educators for the rest.  These judges are certified in foods, food preservation - the works.  We rarely, if ever, get a complaint about an entry.  We have somewhat rigid guidelines for entries, which will level the playing field.  As for the state fair---one year a ragged edge quilt was a winner in one category.  Some years are good - some not.  I have always won ribbons at the state level, plus two sweepstakes.  Haven't entered for six years.  Am thinking about it.  Unfortunately, the sewing entries at the state fair are dwindling.  I will concede that some state fair judges (for adults) are not current.  Case in point:  I entered an heirloom constructed Christening gown; the judges comment:  
"novel closures".  I used beauty pins to close the back, which is the preferred method on a Christening gown.  Just shrugged and stapled the comment sheet to the ribbon.  Another gown I fashioned from white batiste and used ivory lace and ribbons.  Was gorgeous.  Comment???  Why didn't you use white lace?  DH told me that I would not get far w/that entry.  For being a non-sewer, he was spot on!  Face it, it is a gamble when one enters a contest.  
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Offline msOs

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2011, 01:02:04 PM »
Glad to see this thread started up again. I've entered the Minnesota state fair twice in the last three years for many of the reasons given here--I've looked at the garments and thought, I can do better, I want to contribute to the traditions, and I want to get feedback from the judges. The competition is not consistent, but last year it was a real pleasure to come in second to  the entries in my category. Deadline for the state fair is August 9 this year, so I'd better get cracking! Is anyone else entering anything this year?

Offline Ducky

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2011, 04:33:23 PM »
Last spring, for the first time ever, I entered the county fair sewing competition.  . There were  8 pieces, and I won  a ribbon for 2nd place, one for 3rd place and one for honorable mention. Plus a check for $4.00!!   Not bad for my first competition!!
Later I learned that I had mis-categorized most of my pieces... Live and Learn!! 
Next year will be better!

Offline lydia

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Re: Fairs, Fair Entries, Fair Judging!
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2011, 03:40:46 PM »
Congratulations on your wins.  Entering any competition is a gamble.  As for not entering in the right category - ask the facilitators for advice.  Might get you more ribbons and premium money.  At our fair, only the Sweepstakes winners get $$$.  After visiting our state fair in August, I am determined to enter again.  As I stated in a prior post, I do not think that the state fair adult entry judges are on top of new fabrics, techniques, or styles.  JMHO. 
"I'll cross that bridge when I get to it."

 

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