I’ve been waiting for this week all year long.
It’s Fair Week in Calloway County. To a farm kid, there is no greater validation than receiving a blue ribbon at the county fair. Unless you receive an elusive purple championship ribbon.
Our family was very involved in 4-H. Mom and Dad served on the Hopkins County 4-H Council for years. My sister was legendary at the fair barns. While she might only be 5’4″, she could lead an 1100-lb steer around the ring with her little finger. Horses loved her. Pigs adored her. She earned so many blue and championship ribbons during her 4-H years that her bedroom walls were testaments of her first-born perfection. My brother happily participated too, and brought home plenty of ribbons and trophies of his own. While he certainly knew his way around the fair barns, he seemed happier outside of those barns rather than in them.
Being the youngest kid, I watched my siblings prepare and compete. I thought they were awesome (still do!). The year that I was finally old enough to enter the 4-H competitions, I was ready. I studied the Hopkins County Fair Catalog like it was the Bible. My parents knew that I was busy with projects that summer. But I think they were a bit overwhelmed with my collection because in the end, I had entries in nearly every class of the 4-H General Division. For my efforts, I was named 4-H Grand Champion and earned plenty of blue, red, and white ribbons. Enough to have a decent display on my own bedroom walls. Then, I discovered boys.
The Calloway County Fair is just like all county fairs; kids run around with snow cones and cotton candy, carnies hock their games, and Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” rules the midway. While my 4-H days are long gone, I nearly entered a few of my canning projects in last years’ Family and Consumer Science competition. But I chickened out. After all, I was still a novice. For weeks, I talked myself into it, only to talk myself out of it. Then the day came — and went without my entries.
But this year, I am not chickening out. I have little jars all dressed up and ready for their debut at the Calloway County Fair with entries for each canning class: jellies, jams, preserves, pickles and relishes, and canned fruits and vegetables. I have to admit, I’m pretty excited. I’ve driven my beloved, my sister, my niece, and my friends crazy for months preparing my entries. With each canning project I’ve asked, “Is it Fair-worthy?”
We’ll see. Wish me luck!