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! 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.
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!