My Secret Life as a Judge at the County Fair

I am a HUGE fan of county fairs. I started entering my arts & crafts and baked goods in our local fair when I was six years old (the minimum age for that county) and have been entering pretty much every year since. In addition to baked goods and arts & crafts, I've entered a bunch of other things over the years. 

Lemon Bread, Reserve Best of Show 2009, Solano County Fair

When I was a teenager, I worked at our county fair in the Exhibits Department. My job was to check in entries, act as a clerk when they were judged, display the items, then patrol during the fair to make sure everyone kept their grubby paws off the entries. I loved everything about the job except the endless patrolling. Honestly, what makes people think that it is OK for them to reach beyond barriers and fondle (or steal) something beautiful that belongs to someone else? And the people who would sneak a bite of cake off a display plate?! I always laughed when we found that someone had eaten one of the goodies, knowing that they'd been judged three weeks earlier and had been sitting out uncovered for all that time.

When I was 19, I worked at the California State Fair. My many responsibilities included assisting with judging, displaying items, and acting as an MC at various contests and competitions. Few who were there will forget me trying to MC a pig showmanship contest (the first I'd ever seen, and the first time I'd tried to pronounce the various breeds of pigs). Not my strongest showing.

Fast forward a decade or so. Because of my long history with the fair, I was asked to become a judge. How exciting- and what a responsibility! I felt confident in what I was doing, having clerked for judges so many times.   

This year, I judged a brand-new division at a county fair (that shall not be named). That new division- Paper Crafts! For years, Paper Crafts have been lumped in with other arts & crafts. Obviously, it can be hard to judge a category that includes a scrapbook layout, a painted gourd, and a beaded scarf- an apples to oranges situation if there ever was one. I helped develop the judging criteria:

With the popularity of scrapbooking and cardmaking, it's great that Paper Crafts has its own division. I had a lot of fun looking through all the entries, though the actual judging is quite agonizing. There are always so many wonderful things that are entered, making it tough to pick the winners. There are also many not-so-wonderful things entered. I strive to provide constructive comments on the judging form that will help them improve their craft.

Did any of you enter your layouts and cards in your local county fair? I'd love to hear about it!


  1. This is such a fun read, Cindy! Our children and I have entered stuff in the county fairs over the years. No paper crafting categories here either. How great that you were able to help establish it at your fair.

    I have an award for you on my blog. ~ Blessings


  2. How COOL!! I loveeeeeeeee fairs too!! Nice to hear that paper crafting has its own section now! :):):):):):):):):):):):)


I moderate comments, so you will not see yours appear right away. Please check back if you had a question; I promise to answer it as soon as I see it. Thank you for taking the time to comment!