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1  Exhibit at the County Fair! in Discussion and Questions by beastbunny on: June 19, 2008 08:03:51 PM
I just wrote up this little article for my blog and thought I would post it here as well.  I really want to encourage all crafters, bakers, gardeners, etc in our great crafty community to get out there and try it out!  So many people I talk to know about the fair but think it's not for them.  Not only is it a fun summer activity, it's a learning experience and a chance to meet your local crafty community!  I'm happy to answer questions and I'd love to hear your experiences!

Exhibiting at the County Fair
(or You Don't Have to be in 4-H or Own a Cow to Win Ribbons!)

Exhibiting your craft projects and culinary items in your local county fair is fun, easy, economical and good for your community! I read so many blogs from young (and not-as-young) crafters and culinarians and I often wonder if they have considered their county fair as a fun outlet for their talents. If you've wondered (or never even though of it), I'm here to tell you how easy it is and that you should get off your duff and try it out this year!

Step 1-Where is the fair?
Find out if your county has a fair. Time was, all counties held fairs as a community gathering and a place to exhibit each person's special talents. Across the country, fairs are having a harder time each year getting people through the gates so they can make money and continue the next year. County fair, sounds like a quaint old pastime, and fewer and fewer people want to spend Friday night at the tractor pull or rodeo. (If they only knew the fun you can have there!)

If your county is one that has sadly dropped it's fair, check into your state fair! All 50 states have state fairs and most do not require general category exhibits to "qualify" at any sort of county fair or smaller competition. You extension office can provide you with a state fair book or you can have the state fair office mail one to you, check your state fair's website. Do be warned that unlike most county fairs, state fairs usually require pre-registration so you will need to plan a month or two in advance and get your entry fees in before the closing date.

Step 2-Fair book
Get a fair premium book. This is a list of all classes, entry fees, prizes and rules for each category. You can get them from the fair office (usually located on the fair grounds) or your county's Extension Office.

As an aside, your local Extension Office has a wealth of information on cooking/nutrition, budgeting/finance, gardening/lawn care, animal care, sewing/crafts, emergency preparedness, parenting, and more. Their websites are chock full of gobs of handy info and their print publications are usually available free or at very nominal fees. I LOVE the Extension Office! (It's also where you can sign your kids up for 4-H or become a volunteer like me!)

Crochet doily, second place

Step 3-Recalling projects past
Brainstorm your creations. Don't think you need to create a whole basketful of new projects just for the fair. Most fairs require all items you exhibit to be made since the last fair. Think of all the projects you've completed in the past year! All the recipes you've already tried, enjoyed and would gladly recreate! No need to start from square one. As long as items are not noticeably worn, you can exhibit them so round up your projects from the past year and grab your fair book to decide which class to enter each one in.

What kinds of things can you exhibit? Basically anything you can make! Our fair is pretty standard and has separate categories for fine arts (paintings and photography), needlework/crafts (quilting, knit/crochet, paper craft, jewelry, sewing, etc.), junior division (under 18), produce (fruits, veggies, grains), baked goods, preserves/canned goods/honey, flower arrangements/specimens, and more!

Cookies in a display case at the Champaign County Fair

Step 4-Tips and tricks for new creations
Create a few new items for a few classes if you'd like. I love to be challenged and try new things! The fair book is my idea book for new things I would like to try. Last year I saw the category labeled "Craft item made from recyclables" and ran with it. And won first place!

I'm sure we all do our very best in everything we do, but when creating items for the fair it's important to keep in mind what they judges look for. Creativity and design are important but so are neatness and correct use of technique. Finishing in sewn items is very important. Clean, correctly finished seams, neat or no knots, straight hems finished properly, patterned fabric matched up, zippers inserted correctly. In Cross stitch, neatness is key (our judges use magnifying lenses and inspect the front AND back of pieces). When it comes down to placements, a more intricate crochet doily will beat one made with larger thread or one with a simpler design. In the culinary division, all items are tasted but texture, color, completeness of recipe card and use of proper cooking methods are also important. When exhibiting produce, most class are shown in groups of 3-5 and uniformity is VERY important. For example pickling cucumbers are shown in groups of 5 at our fair. Not only should they all be beautiful specimens free of bugs and disease but they should all be the same color, size, variety and maturity. Planning the planting of your garden is also important so that the produce you plan to exhibit will be in its peak season when fair time rolls around. This can mean starting plants early indoors so that they will have a leg up or planting later for some varieties like lettuces that you would want younger, more tender plants to show at the fair.

Pineapple-kiwi jam, make several and take the very best to the fair!

Step 5-Fair Day
Bundle up your items and head on out! Most county fairs are day-of entry meaning you bring your entry fee and your items and register the day of the competition. Having your entry form(found in the back of your premium book) already filled out will save you time and a headache at the fairgrounds. It is a good idea to bring hangers for any apparel items and quilts Your superintendents will appreciate you saving them space on the tables. Doilies look nice mounted on foamboard with pins. Make sure you food items are displayed on plain white paper plates, patterns or decorative displays are usually not allowed unless the category calls for them. Cover with plastic wrap or in a plastic bag. Most fairs will have these things available in case you forgot. Don't forget a recipe card with each recipe on it. Canned goods must be clearly labeled with the date they were canned.

Cheap or FREE!
Entering your county fair is usually VERY economical. Entries in my county fair's general division are 50 cents each! Add to that the fact that most of the time you are required to drop off and pick up your items early in the morning before the fair opens so you don't have to pay entry each time and you've got a bargain! (And if you earn ribbons, there is almost always a small cash prize to go along with it! I always make at least my entry fees back.) I do encourage you to come back to the fair and pay entry at least once though because if the fair fails to make enough money, it will not be able to continue. And the elephant ear and lemon shake-up vendors aren't open early in the morning so you've got to come back at night to get your fix! Is that just me? It can't just be me! Anyone want to share a fried Snickers bar with me?

Learning experience!
So you don't want ribbons. Why go to the fair? Being judged is a great way to improve your skills. The judges at our fair are experts in their area. They leave comments on each item's tag to help you understand your placement. You can also stick around after the judging (don't approach them while they are judging, it is not allowed) and ask them a question or two, how could you improve your color transitions in your afghan? Is there a better way to finish the seam in your toddler dress? Was it the spices or the texture of your pumpkin bread that could be improved?

What do I do with this stuff?
My favorite part of any project is planning! I love looking through magazines and finding patterns that would be great for the fair. But keep in mind you will be taking these things home afterwards so don't make anything you dont' like or won't get use out of. Make things you like, in colors and patterns you like. Create things you will wear or use in your own size or that someone you know will enjoy as a gift. I make several items each year that I know I will be donating to charity auctions. You can then include the ribbons with the item and as an added bonus, people will know they are bidding on a ribbon-winning item! This is a good solution to categories you would like to try out but maybe you have no baby for your layette or a painted jewelry box just doesn't fit into you decor. As for culinary and horticultural entries, there is a reason large garbage cans are located in the exhibit hall on check-out day. Winning exhibits stay on display for the extent of the fair. Sometimes it's in a hot, humid building with no AC or air flow of any kind. Be sure to take a picture of your exhibit before leaving that first day you drop it off because by the end of the week your tomatoes may be rotten, your pie may have devolved into a puddle of goo and your jam may have a green skin on top.

I really want to encourage everyone to try it out. You don't have to enter 40 categories your first year. Maybe pick one or two classes that fit items you've made in the past year or bake your mother's absolutely to-die-for, never-fail chocolate chip cookies. Get your feet wet, get acclimated to the process and build up from there. Or not. Nothing says you can't take one or two projects each year and keep it simple! I welcome questions or if you have stories about your trips to the fair, I'd love to hear them!

Show us your show stuff!

I've started a flickr group called The County Fair Revival http://www.flickr.com/groups/768404@N20/ where anyone can post pictures of their fair entries. Get out there and show your stuff and then show us!

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2  Re: Swap the Shop Round 3 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by beastbunny on: June 19, 2007 07:21:46 AM
Sold to atsuko to further fuel her crochet food habit.  Smiley

Two slices of bread.  Each slice is 4.5" x 3.5", so it's perfect for child-sized sandwiches or toast! 1 point for two slices
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3  Re: Swap the Shop Round 3 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by beastbunny on: June 17, 2007 08:55:34 AM
Just sold to atsuko, but if someone wants another set, I can quickly whip up another batch.  Smiley

Four sandwich cookies, two vanilla and two chocolate.  Each cookie is about 1 3/4" across. 1 point for all four
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4  Re: Swap the Shop Round 3 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by beastbunny on: June 14, 2007 05:21:54 AM
Just sold to groschveux:

Sandwich lunch: A lettuce, turkey and tomato sandwich with potato chips, ice tea with lemon and a piece of your choice of pie (see earrings for choices).

Doughnuts with box: 1/2 dozen of the finest mini doughnuts in a handmade box with clear window. Doughnuts are removable.
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5  Re: Swap the Shop Round 3 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by beastbunny on: June 12, 2007 01:15:09 PM
Sold to Legerdemain as soon as they were posted.  (As if I didn't know who would buy them!)

Both sets sold but could make more. Two doughnut stitch marker sets, each comes in a metal watchmaker's case which has glass top.  One set is slightly larger than the other and comes with a slightly larger case.

Set A-the larger set includes a chocolate frosted doughnut with white stripes, a chocolate frosted custard filled long john, a raspberry filled with powdered sugar on top and a kruller
2 points for the set

Set B-slightly smaller doughnuts with slightly smaller case includes a chocolate frosted chocolate doughnut, a pink frosted, a maple frosted with sprinkles (my favorite all time doughnut!) and a vanilla frosted.  You might call this the frosted pack.
2 points for the set
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6  Sold so far in The Swap Gallery by beastbunny on: June 10, 2007 05:00:33 PM

Pink striped felted handbag --2 points  SOLD
made with kool-aid died yarn
About 6 inches high and 10 inches long
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7  Re: Shop the Swap Round 3 Discussion Thread in New Swap Theme Ideas by beastbunny on: June 05, 2007 05:20:33 AM

Sully says
"Mr. Beagle sir, and any other doggies in the swap, I think you would really like a bandanna from my mama's shop.  She dresses me up in crazy outfits and costumes which I don't really enjoy very much but I actually LIKE wearing bandannas!  I think you will too.  And I have two friends who are boogles as I call them, Tango and Nikki."
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8  Re: Shop the Swap Round 3 in ARCHIVE OF SWAPS THAT ARE TOTALLY FINISHED by beastbunny on: June 01, 2007 08:26:03 AM
Beastbunny has CLOSED up shop for the month
Located in the HEART of Illinois.
Non-smoking home, but filled with cat and dog hair.   Grin
Items for you and your furry friends!
Click on each of my photos for the flickr page and larger photos.

Crochet food goodies!
(Made with both wool and acrylic yarns.)
More to come

American Girl sized pioneer-style outfit --3 points
includes dress with attached petticoat, pantaloons edged in lace and bonnet with ribbon ties.  This was made for me in a swap but doesn't fit my doll (not AG) because she is a little smaller than AG size.  If you have a little girl who likes AG or you do yourself, this is a cute outfit!

Reversible fabric headband --1 point
I picked up at Renegade last year, has elastic band in back.  Dark brown with flowers on one side and subtle pink/metallic gold print ob other side

Record bowl, only small available now (pink label)
1 point each

Handmade greeting cards--2 cards for 1 point
These are from card swap so I didn't make them, but they are hand stamped and embellished.  One friendship card and three Christmas cards.  Click on the photo to see the flickr page and read the sayings in each.  Only the friendship card comes with mailing envelope.

Doggy scrapbook layout--1 point
This is a two page spread for an 8x8 album.  It has real fabric, 3D dog and pawprint embellishments and a cute doggy saying.  Made by me for a swap that didn't have enough people in it so I got one of my own back.

Doggy bandannas--1 point each
For the girls I have a very cute striped flower print and for the man-dogs I have blue wrestling print which has some lucha masks along with wrestlers and wrestling words like "crash" and "bam"! These are the kind that the collar slips through so no tying about the dog's neck. 
Dimensions:15.5 inches long and about 7 inches from top to tip of triangle  These are made to fit adult medium sized dogs such as corgis/shelties/border collies.
PM for other color or size possibilities.

Clay cakes/cookies/pies-- These are good for doll set-ups or just to have around.   These are not any particular scale but I can give you dimension for any piece if you'd like.  They are handmade from polymer clay. They are not made into pendants or anything like that.
1 point each item (1 cake, 1 pie, pan of cinnamon rolls, pb&j sandwich, or 5 cookies with a plate)  other items sold piece by piece, just ask

1/6th scale food for Blythe/Barbie dolls- 2 points per set.  Special introductory offer: Buy one set, get one half off (two sets for 3 points)

Waffle breakfast: Three waffles with butter and syrup, a chocolate frosted doughnut (because more sugar is better!), a banana and a glass of orange juice.

Pizza dinner: Onion and green pepper pizza with two slices cut out, twisty bread, coke with ice and pink frosted cupcake. Box has logo for make-believe pizza place on top.

Clay pendants--2 for 1 point (sorry, did away with 1/2 point option)
These are marbley clay slabs that have an image stamped into them and then embossed with ink to make it stand out.  They've been sealed with floor polish so they are shiny!

Pie slice earrings! - 1 point per pair

Your choice of grasshopper, lemon cream or french silk.

Grasshopper- Creamy mint pie with an oreo cookie crust and whipped cream and oreos on top

French silk with whipped cream and chocolate curls on top!

Lemon cream with whipped cream and lemon slices on top

beastbunny has 2 spendable points
beastbunny had 0 pending points
beastbunny has sold these items:
grasshoppper pie earrings and dog bandanna to catpants (2 points)
1 large record bowl to prettyinskulls (1 point)
2 slices crochet bread to atsuko (1 point)
4 crochet sandwich cookies to atsuko (1 point)
2 sets of doughnut stitch markers to Legerdemain (4 points total)
pink striped felted bag to Mlsocci74 (2 points)
playscale doughnuts with box and sandwich lunch to groschveux (3 points)
beastbunny has claimed these items:
LaughingLark's Tree of Life pendant (1 point)
Fun4Bambi's frankensandles (1 point)
loves2experiment's spirograph pouch (1 point)
raynbow's sheepy soap (1 point)
Dulcinea's crochet hook (1 point)
LaughingLark's French beaded brooch, lime green and purple (1 point)
sewknitter's custom name snowfake scarf (2 points)
sewnkitter's custom tatted bracelet (2 points)
redheadskydiver's custom microscope slide pendant (1 point)
knitwit's felt bead kit (1 point)
LaughingLark's pink and red berrys on pink ribbon (1 point)
Penguino's felted flower bobby pins (1 point)
catpants' felted bead necklace (1 point)
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9  Re: Pet Swap Round 2 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by beastbunny on: July 29, 2006 12:34:27 PM
Ok, here is what we got from CloverGrace.  It includes a little bit for everyone in the household!
Sully, the corgi got a doggy blanket (he loves blankets and scratching at them to make a bed and then lying on them) and a homemade bone toy with his name embroidered on it!!!  It has a squeaker, which is fantastic because he JUST learned to squeak a toy a few weeks ago!!  (He is a rescue and had never had toys and would not chase after toys for the longest time.  He squeaked his very first toy, which is a smaller red stuffed bone and the look on his face was priceless, he was shocked!)  The blanket is awesome, it's a quilt and looks like it took some serious time, plus it's made out of very durable fabrics so it can take Sully's digging and clawing!

The cat got an awesome evil kitty world domination kit which was in his very own drawstring bag with his name embroidered on it.  It includes a globe, a pitchfork, a bomb!!!, a bottle of poison and an evil cat face, which are all catnip toys.  So cool!

The guinea pig (Singular pig because sadly Turk passed away during this swap so now Skippy has two blankets which is what he wanted anyway because he is just as evil as the cat) got very durable piggy blankets made of faux sheepskin and frabic.  They are so cool!  Great for summer when I'm sure pigs don't want to be all snuggled up but want something soft to lay on.  The only animal that is not evil is the dog, he is the world's meekest, sweetest dog.)  She also sent along some toilet paper tubes to stuff with treats because piggies LOVE to chew on cardboard.

And Miss CloverGrace (the dog) sent along an autographed picture of herself which is too cute!!  Her little paw print is adorable!  Everything is spectacular, thank you so much!
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10  Re: Hands Across the Water: US to UK (and back) Swap Gallery! in The Swap Gallery by beastbunny on: March 12, 2006 07:32:45 PM

I got my package!  And what a package it is! 

Jaffa Cakes!  Alsorts!  Marshmallows!  A Kinder Egg (only the toy was left for the picture.  Trebor mints!

Magazine/paper goods!

A ladies magazine!  Recipe booklets!  Postcards!  And also bubble bath!

A T-shirt!

The best t-shirt in the world. 

Everything is fantastic!  Thank you so much, sarahjayne!!
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