I managed to slip in an afternoon visiting our county fair a few weeks ago, just before I left on my trip. It was a bittersweet visit as I've spent the last ten years very involved in the fair in many ways. First with my kids and 4-H. Over the years our entire family entered crafts, art, flowers, projects... I had a good natured rivalry going with several friends and neighbors over who would take home the most ribbons each year. Most of all, I was part of a core group of people who helped with judging and helped put up all the displays in the main Exhibit Hall. I'd worn lots of hats and been offered several different official jobs through the years, but I always preferred working for free as a volunteer, for the sheer pleasure of it.
A few years ago, however, the fair underwent a major shift in organization. It wasn't the first time. They happened every few years. (Another reason why I liked being a volunteer and staying well out of the small town politics of it all.) But this time something happened, and a lot of regular volunteers fell through the cracks. Despite phone calls, memos, face-to-face reminders of what needed to be done, we were shunted to the side. The irony is that for two years in a row I got frantic (and rude!) phone calls at the last minute crying for help and asking why we weren't helping. Uhm, yeah. Like I really believe you didn't get or remember three visits, two notes, and a dozen phone calls. Sigh. The end of the story was that I made the difficult decision last year not to bother even trying to participate as a volunteer. I did, however, still enter some things in the fair, took home a few ribbons. This year, I knew I was going to be gone, so I did nothing, entered nothing. It felt like saying goodbye to what had been a very important part of my life.
It seemed like a number of other regular exhibitors had also decided to retire, or perhaps just take a hiatus, from participating. There were a lot of empty exhibit tables this year.
I was pleasantly surprised though to see a lot of quilt entries. I was less pleasantly surprised at how they were exhibited. Okay, I was more than just unpleasantly suprised by it. I was seriously annoyed. I spoke with a few people who said that the fair board had no one to organize the hall and had thrown things together themselves at the last minute. Uhm, yeah. I could tell. And remember, they still had a number of volunteers that would have been happy to do it for them - I wonder how much it was a situation of big fish in a small pond not wanting to share what they thought was their territory?
Here's how many of the quilts were displayed.
Yeah. It's laundry day! If I had entered a quilt and found it squashed up and trailing on the dirty floor - I would have been livid. I was annoyed as a fair goer because of course I couldn't SEE the quilt. The best that could be determined was whether or not I liked the colors the quilter used. And I do like the brown and pink colors of the quilt in the first basket.
A few quilts were hung like the ones above, but most of the quilts ended up folded and layered into these display cases. Not much of an improvement over the baskets. I was itching to take some of them out and unfold them so I could SEE them because there did seem to be quite a few interesting quilts. Speaking of.... I really liked the one hanging on the right above. I liked the scrappy but cohesive look of the trellis pattern done in multiple greens and the pure colors of the stars.
This quilt took Best of Show. Very traditional but that's to be expected at our fair and the workmanship was really good.
The machine quilting was probably the most creative part of it - I thought it was lovely. And unlike some quilters, I do like earth tones. I don't work in them very often, but in the right mood they appeal to me.
This was all I could see of this quilt, folded and hung above a display cabinet. But I liked how the brown color scheme made a busy pattern seem peaceful. I bet the same person quilted this quilt and the Best of Show quilt.
In case you can't tell what this is, it's a handmade rag rug. I thought it was really beautiful but again, if I'd entered it and come in to find it being all stretched out of shape by being displayed thrown over who knows what, I'd have been seriously pissed. I hope the owner of this rug complained and got it moved for the rest of the week.
I liked the browns and brights combined. And the great folksy stitching. This was one that I would have really loved to see in it's entirely. (That doll, by the way, was just sitting on the floor.)
Ditto on this one - why they didn't choose to hang it up? I don't have a clue. (What's that you say? They were clueless too - ? - ha!) Of course I immediately thought of Jaye's many dotted adventures.
This was the local quilt guild's group quilt. I was on the committee that designed the pattern for this quilt and, although some decisions had morphed or changed since the first draft (most noticably, the background color), still, I think it turned out really lovely. I've been taking an unplanned hiatus from the group - a year? Two years? Geeze, I can't remember the last time I went to a meeting. So, that design meeting was my last and only contribution to the making of it this quilt.
I thought this was a nice, and different, take on the.... the... oh dang, I can't remember the name of the technique - where you fussy cut and make kaleidoscope blocks. Anyway, I liked it.
Not a quilt. Not even in the same exhibit hall. These two fine gentleman were entries in the Scarecrow competition set up in the floral building. I thought they were very funny. In case you don't get the joke - the shirt reads "Vote for Pedro". Still don't get it? Well then, I guess you didn't see the movie.