Putting Up in Happy Valley

Preserving [My] Sanity in Central Pa.

Grange Fair WATCH: The entries

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The 2012 Centre County Grange Fair and Encampment takes place in Centre Hall, Pa., August 23-30. For me, “The Fair” proper begins on Thursday the 25th, when I make my way over Centre Hall Mountain in my Ford pick-up, schlepping my entries in the Home and Dairy Products Department to the Exhibit Hall for judging.  I have already completed my entry form, paid my $1.00 entry fee (not $1.00 per entry—that’s one dollar PERIOD, TOTAL, for all of the 30 categories I entered), and submitted it by the deadline of August 5th. Judging takes place on Friday the 26th, with the winners usually announced by 5 p.m.

This year I have entered in only two “Sections” in Department 15:

  • Sec. 2: Canned and Dried Products
  • Sec. 4: Butters, Honey Spreads, Jams, Jellies, and Preserves

 

I have won quite a few prizes in years past—including dozens of firsts—but,  in the interest of full disclosure, I must reveal that none of the entries in these categories are tasted by the judges. Jams and jellies are judged on “appearance, consistency and neatness of package,” pickles and relishes on “uniformity, clearness, color, and arrangement.” It’s kind of like Aunt Bee’s pickles but in reverse. I’m sure there are good reasons for leaving the food untouched—liability issues, health codes, the subjectivity of “Yum!”, the inevitable intestinal distress one would likely experience after tasting from hundreds of put-up products, including home-canned BEEF TONGUE (just looking at it makes me woozy). Nonetheless, people are surprised when I tell them that taste is not part of the deal.

These are the 30 items I am entering (assuming I finish them all before next Thursday):

  • Pickled beans
  • Pickled beets (I’ve won first four years in a row and placed every year)
  • Pickled cauliflower
  • Chow-chow
  • Pickled peppers
  • Piccalilli
  • Miscellaneous pickle (always my favorite because I can use my imagination)
  • Bread and butter pickle (a VERY competitive class)
  • Mixed Pickle
  • Pepper Relish
  • Miscellaneous Relish (another personal favorite)
  • Salsa
  • Miscellaneous sauce (wait and see; I think I have a sure winner in this class!)
  • Spiced peaches (may not get this one done)
  • Any other spiced fruit (nor this one)
  • Blackberry jam
  • Cherry jam
  • Currant jam
  • Elderberry jam (the birds ate my elderberries, so unless I find some before Thursday, this one will be a no-show)
  • Peach jam
  • Plum jam
  • Black raspberry jam
  • Red raspberry jam
  • Rhubarb jam
  • Strawberry jam (I’m not thrilled with mine this year)
  • Blueberry jam
  • Any other jam
  • Cherry jelly (I usually don’t put up jellies—little room for error, the delicious fruit pulp is wasted)
  • Any other jelly
  • Display of three jellies (a few years ago I won first in this class with red [raspberry], white [apple], and blue [blueberry] pepper jellies)

 

Lest you go all existential and wonder “What is the point?,” there are cash prizes:  Generally, $3.00 for 1st, $2.50 for 2nd, $2.00 for 3rd, $1.50 for 4th, and $1.00 for 5th.

 

A few years back, my winnings totaled $93.00.

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