Saturday, May 19, 2012

Time to Prepare for the County Fair

I am a HUGE fan of the county fair.  Growing up, our whole family's schedule revolved around the fair.  I grew up entering dozens of items in the fair each year - baked goods, arts and crafts, woodworking, preserved food... and the list goes on and on.  My first paid job was as an Exhibits Worker at the fair.  Over the years, I continued to enter my stuff in the county fair.  I entered my students' work in the fair and took them to the fair to see their work exhibited.  Eventually I was asked to be a judge at the fair.  I still enter items in the fair (though obviously not in the categories I judge!).  I love everything about the fair.  


Our county fairs are really hurting.  Entries are down.  Way down.  Fairs are losing money and it is possible, even likely, that some of our fairs will die out in the not-so-far future.  That makes me incredibly sad.

Since you're reading my blog, chances are good that you enjoy scrapbooking, cooking, or kids' crafts.  Perhaps all three.  Did you know that you can enter all of these (and so much more) in your local county fair?  How about photography?  Cake decorating?  Gift wrapping?  Gardening?  Poetry?  Flower arranging?  People are always surprised to hear just how many different types of things can be entered in the fair.

Entering is easy.  Entering is inexpensive.  Entering is fun.

If you live in or near Solano County, click here:


If you live elsewhere, simply Google "_____ county fair."

Most counties allow residents from surrounding counties to enter their fair, so if entering in your own county fair is inconvenient (perhaps you'll be vacationing during the delivery dates) or the deadline for entries has already passed, consider entering in a surrounding county.

And don't forget your kids!  The age differs in each county, but Trevor has been entering at the Solano County Fair since age 3.  Any child can enter - you don't need to be affiliated with a school or youth organization.  The crafts your children do at school, the projects or drawings they do at home, the photos they take, the foods they make.... all of those are things you can enter.  Here is Trevor showing off two of his first fair entries (the painting of flowers behind his left elbow and the paper bowl turtle on the purple counter by his left shoulder- both blue ribbons!)


Perhaps you're worried that your stuff isn't good enough.  First of all, it probably is.  Don't sell yourself short!  The cards you make, the scrapbook pages you put together, the photos you take, the stitchery you do, the flowers or vegetables you grow, the cookies you bake... I'd be willing to bet there is something you've made or grown that deserves to be entered in the fair.  And, to be honest, entries are down so much in some categories that there are less people entering than there are prizes.  As a judge, I have awarded first place to the ONLY item entered in a category.  A more popular category might only have a dozen entries, with cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  Those aren't bad odds.

I hope all of you will consider entering something (and helping your children enter something!) in your local county fair.  If you have any questions or need any help, please let me know.  This is something I believe in passionately and am more than willing to help walk any of you though the process of entering.

11 comments:

  1. Sadly #'s for the fair have been down here for YEARS... we used to LOVE going to the fair... but it's always been in the 'bad' part of town -- that's where the arena is -- and for I'd say for the past decade more and more and more people that are affiliated with 'gangs' are the ones that go to the fair... so other people with kids etc are afraid too... NO one with a family goes at night... ever ... it's sad...

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    1. That's such a shame. Our local fairs have done a great job cracking down on that. I definitely feel safe there.

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  2. I agree with the comments above. I've brought my daughter only during the day. But, the idea of entering stuff does interest me & she will probably be excited to enter some of her creations! Nice idea!

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  3. I'm in the process right now of trying to figure out my entries. Photography is very hard to get into as it is a juried competition and now open to all residents of the state of California. Scrapbooking/card making is up to 13 categories this year so now I have to narrow down what my 5 entries will be. As for the future of the Orange County Fair, its up in the air as the state is trying to sell the grounds.

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    1. Photography is interesting- in some counties, it's juried and hugely competitive, but then one county over, it's open and barely anyone enters. Good luck with your entries!

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  4. Thank you for the encouragement, Cindy! Our fair isn't until the third week of September and I have always said I would like to enter something. My grandfather always thought I made a pretty "mean" loaf of zucchini bread and told me it would win a first place ribbon at a county fair. It was his #1 request when he was in a nursing home for three years. That and a few papercrafting itess have been on my mental list of things to enter for a long time. Maybe I will start looking into the deadlines now.

    Sadly, last year the horse race-track that our local county fair was partners with went bankrupt shortly before the fair was to be held, which meant the fairgrounds were closed for business. However,there is good news that goes with this sad story. The fair is still such a big event in our community, that some of the community leaders got together, found the biggest place they could to hold the fair and within a matter of weeks organized the "UNfair" so the kids who had worked hard through the year with entries would have a place to take them. In our area 4-H and agriculture are very big and the fair is a huge event for the 4-H members. Even though it had to be a slightly scaled down version, it was an overwhelming success!

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    1. You have to enter your zucchini bread! What a great way to honor your grandfather. And definitely papercrafts too.

      I'm so glad to hear your UNfair went so well! It would be unbelievably devastating for 4-H members and others who'd worked all year to have nowhere to enter.

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  5. We go to a local fair here. I love what they call the 'Hobby' Displays. There are so few entries in the scrapbooking/paper crafting area. But the Quilt entries is in the hundreds. I'm glad you are encouraging T to enter.

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    1. I love the Hobbies too! One of my favorite areas, and one of the very few I've never entered!

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  6. There isn't a county fair in our area but both Carolina's have big state fairs. We love to visit.

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