I recently did two days of judging at a nearby county fair, as I have done for many years. This year, I judged almost exclusively paper crafts, including scrapbook pages, cards, mini albums, quilling, and more. It was equal parts fun, difficult and exhausting.
Odd things often happen to me when I judge. Last year's... um... infestation... was, well, memorable. This year, a stranger who was judging something completely different than me in a different building came right up to me, her face inches from mine, and demanded to know, "Are you the gourd judge?!" I was unsure how to answer, as I was not exactly clear on what she was talking about. She took my confused silence as a negative, issuing the parting comment, "Let me know if you find out who the gourd judge is!" Um... sure. Will do. I never learned who the gourd judge was or what business this other judge had related to gourds.
In 2013, after completing my judging I felt compelled to write an open letter to fair contestants. You can read that here. I wrote another letter last year, which is here. Today I'm sharing "Dear Entrants,..." Part Three.
Thank you so much for entering your projects in the county fair! I appreciate that all of you have taken the time and made the effort to share your creations with us. It's your support that has kept our fair thriving for generations.
Judging at the fair is hard work. I do it because I love fairs, enjoy seeing the many talents in our area, and like using my expertise to ensure that your efforts are judged fairly and honestly. (Of course, I never turn down the money or the free lunch either!) I've been judging for many, many years and this was the most difficult year by far. Why? Well, imagine looking at 12 beautiful apples, that all look perfect at first glance, with the task of accurately identifying the three very best. I might not think Golden Delicious is as inherently pretty or tasty as Fuji, but does that mean that a perfect Golden Delicious should always lose to a Fuji? Of course not. Instead, I have to find the tiniest flaw that makes one objectively better in some way than another. It's not easy.
Entrants, your projects were like the seemingly-perfect apples. I had to put aside my personal taste and look for the tiniest details (perfectly straight cuts, pristine projects, not a trace of visible adhesive, etc) in order to rank your projects. There weren't any rotten apples in the bunch that I could immediately rule out. No- I was blown away by the quality of the entries this year. You've outdone yourselves in terms of creativity, workmanship and attention to detail.
You listened to what your judge told you last year. Not one of you turned in a sticky project. Nothing was infested (*shudder*). Glue gun strings were practically non-existent. No one submitted an offensive or inappropriate project. Thank you. Even though you made my job harder, I greatly appreciate it.
I can't wait to see what you submit next year!