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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tied for Third is Plenty Good Enough!

Tied for third is plenty good enough when it comes to setting the record for the most number of consecutive days above ninety degrees in Indianapolis. Lucky us, we did it today! If we have six more days of temperatures reaching 90 or above, then we'll tie the 1936 first place record of 19 days. Seven more days and 2007 gets first place outright!

I'm personally ready to drop out of this hot weather competition, as is everyone else around here. There's a chance it could end tomorrow, and I hope it does.

There are other competitions currently going on at the great Indiana State Fair that are more interesting to me. They've decided this is the year of corn at the fair, hence the picture above of some of my corn in the garden. As part of the festivities, they have some competitions for corn cob throwing and corn husking, amongst other corn related events.

Those would be fascinating competitions to watch, I'm sure, but I'm more interested in the open class competitions where anyone can bring in their produce or flowers and compete for a blue ribbon.

How do those gardeners do it? How do they time it so their produce, be it beets or brocolli, tomatoes or squash, is at the peak of perfection for judging when state fair time rolls around in August? How do they get dahlias and sunflowers to produce a perfect bloom on the day of judging? I can understand how people do it with the cooking and canning competitions, but it must take a "fair" amount of work to have the perfect product or flowers on a specific day, especially around here in hot August.

Have you ever entered something you grew in a competition like this? What drives you to compete? What did you enter? What did you win? Any secrets you'd care to share on how you got your produce or flower to be at the peak of goodness or perfection on a specific day?

17 comments:

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Carol, can you believe I have never been to the Indiana State Fair? I planned to take my mom and dad this year but the heat was too much for them and we decided the stinch along with the heat might be more than we'd want to endure.
I've always been a city girl and have never participated in a state fair.

Kylee said...

I've always wondered that, too, Carol. How DO they manage to have things looking so good at just the right time?

I've never entered anything in the county fair as an adult, although I did when I was in 4H as a kid. My mom enters flowers in their county fair and almost always wins.

LostRoses said...

I read something about how they get blooms to the "just right" stage for competitions. It might have been in Amy Stewart's book Flower Confidential. All I remember is that you really have to be a fanatic to undertake it!

The only veggie I ever entered in a contest was for best-decorated pumpkins at Halloween. My kids and I won and you would have been proud, Carol, since we used different sized squash and gourds for their facial features. This was 20 years ago and the judges hadn't seen anything like that then. It also helped that there weren't many entrants. ;)

chigiy at Gardeners Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about the icky weather. Hang in there.

It gets above 90 all the time here in the summer but there is no humidity and the ocean breeze cools everything down in the 50's and 60s at night.

I love your veggie garden.

Here are the answers to your competition questions:
No, nothing, nothing, nothing and no.

I'm lucky if my veggies are edible let alone perfect.

Happy GTS-stay cool.

Stuart said...

Nope. Never done it but I've thought about it. And then I've pondered the same questions you're asking in your post, Carol. How do they do it?

I've seen how some dahlia growers go to extraodinary lengths to get just one flower ready for a competition. In my book this is way beyond banal and I'm not sure I want to spend my life trying to achieve this.

But, different strokes for different folks...I'm sure there are things I do that those competitors wouldn't want to do.

Great question Carol.

Alyssa said...

For about 5 years I entered my flowers in the Wisconsin State Fair. In January we got a mailing as to what would be judged (usually All American Selections) and then I'd order seeds for those exact varieties. I'd plant a lot of each kind I was entering so I could take the best ones. I worked 3rd shift then so I'd get home from work, pick all the flowers, and get to the fair early for the setup. Perennials, house plants and mixed vases could also be entered. Actually it isn't that complicated. I won a number of blue ribbons and enjoyed it a lot. I would encourage anyone to call the fair in their state and have the info sent out to them. You just never know what could happen!!

Marie said...

You're right, it all sounds way too complicated and stressful. And since I'm trying to ease stress and complications in my life, I think I'll pass on state fair competitions.
I must confess that I do plan to enter a quilt in the local fair next week, but that does not compare to enterring a veggie.

eleanor said...

Carol, you might want to read my comment on "Grandma's Diaries" which I noted, if the passion is there, it can be done. I think that goes for everything you do in life

Layanee said...

Carol: Never entered a food growing competition and can't understand why one would! Gardening as a competitive sport doesn't interest me. I think it might be human nature to look for competition in most endeavors! I like the camaraderie of the shared experience but if no one entered anything there would be less to look at! I have entered a floral design competition (under duress) and have always been surprisingly disappointed at the results.

Mary said...

Carol, this made me laugh. I can't remember ever entering something in a competition other than winning an art contest in elementary school.

It must be so hard to enter something like the perfect flower or vegetable under such hot conditions.

We broke a record high last week and we're on a streak of temps above 90 for at least two weeks! It's been so long, I don't remember when it started.

I would just love to open my windows. Haven't done that since May.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I forgot that when I was in the fifth grade, I was a member of my schools 4-H club. I made an apron, entered it in the fair, and I won a ribbon. Wow, that was so long ago it is barely in my memory bank.

Marc said...

I haven't entered any vegetable of flower growing compititions either. I'll just have to stick with hating the first compitition you mentioned. The Cincinnati area just tied for second ever in the most consecutive days of 90 degrees or more at 15 days. 3 more and we will be number #1 breaking the record set in 1901.

I guess that means its even hotter here than there in Indy. We win! - or should that be counted as a loss? :)

Nan - said...

No, in a State Fair, but yes, in a County Fair. Several years ago, I entered a pound cake and a chocolate cake, and got blue ribbons. :<)

Just to let you know, Carol, I've given you an award. You may "pick it up" here:

http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2007/08/rockin-girl.html

Annie in Austin said...

Vegetables and flowers show up at local garden club shows and I've often wondered the same thing...especially when they display varieties that have finished their bloom cycle in my garden.

Breaking speed records might be cool, Carol, but breaking weather records stinks! Our 8 years in Austin have been one broken weather record after another and you have my sympathy.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

You seem to be having the horrible hot summer we had last year. I wouldn't wish it on anyone...especially not a fellow gardener.

Hang in there.

Carol said...

All

Thanks for the comments, and congrats to those of you who've won competitions in the past, even if not related to flowers and vegetables!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Entangled said...

I've never entered anything in a competition, but I really enjoyed the Indiana State Fair. (This was about 10 years ago when my sister lived near Indy.) We had some of THE best corn dogs ever. We're still talking about them. And there's a wonderful building (can't remember which one) with Art Deco corn motifs.