Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Middletown Grange Fair--August 2009

Yesterday was the day we wait for all year...The Middletown Grange Fair!

It doesn't actually start until Wednesday, but yesterday was the day for those who are entering things go to register...

When I went last year, I didn't realize when I was submitting my entries, that the local newspaper was there taking photos...Things were so hectic at the time that I didn't even remember what newspaper the lady interviewing me said she was from...
It wasn't until I got a call from a friend of mine teasing me about my June Cleaver comments in the front page of the Life section of our local paper did I realize which one it was...
This is a most unattractive picture of me! Since it is hard to read from that picture, here is what the quote in the paper was...
"Fortunately for the future of the fair's cooking contests, there were also plenty of first-timers among this year's competitors. Many of them came with baked goods in hand, but Shannon Monson, of Warrington, brought a basket full of colorfully filled jars--green tomato relish, bread-and-butter pickles, salsa and more.
Monson, who had her three young children in tow, said this was her first try at the preserves category. Canning food from the family's flourishing garden "helps the kids feel proud of the the things we grow," she explained.
Some of her recipes came from her mom, who used to enter the fair in Butler County, and from her grandmother. "It's become a family thing," she said.
For Monson and many other Grange Fair competitors, the contests are a way to keep alive kitchen crafts like canning and preserving, which too often seem like dying arts. "When I look at all these jars here--it's like a little piece of America," Monson said".
So there you have it...my claim to fame! Tee hee

So as far as yesterday went, as a side note: It was BLAZING hot and humid! The heat index was 105--can you imagine how awful that was with full on humidity?

This year was a disaster as far as vegetable gardening goes...

My tomatoes all got a blight, the cucumbers got shaded out by spaghetti squash, and 3/4 of our strawberries molded because of all the rain we've gotten this summer...

In addition to green beans, India relish was the only thing I've canned so far this year...(thank goodness I picked some of the green tomatoes before the blight totally wiped out all my plants).

Last year, I entered my bread and butter pickles and salsa as well, but this year, I just entered the india relish and zucchini bread (which, by the way, was slightly undercooked and tasted like crap, but I didn't realize that until we got home from entering everything). Maybe they'll be awarding ribbons to the grossest bread--in which case, I'll get first prize!

I was very happy with how my herbs looked...

I entered a scented geranium, sage, marjoram, lemon thyme, lemon balm, parsley, curry, rosemary, peppermint, and basil...

There's no telling what they ended up looking like when the judging finally happened...with this outrageous heat, it's anyone's guess)

This was the miniature artistic arrangement I entered. Last year I filled a little teacup with an assortment of herbs and tiny roses and it got second place. I think the judges are looking for something a little more "kitchy" so I used this porcelain shoe.

The categories they have for flower arrangements are really dorky. "Easter Time", "Jingle Bells", "Down on the Farm", etc.

Why can't there just be a simple theme of arranging wildflowers in a container? In my opinion, that would be a better way to celebrate the end of the summer. Who the heck wants to think about Christmas when it's not even autumn yet? I actually suggested this last year and called a month or so later to follow up but the change was never made.

These were the only garden vegetables worthy of entering. Brian got a blue ribbon on his spaghetti squash last year, and this year's squash looks similar.

I usually grow sweet and hot banana peppers for my salsa, but since the tomatoes are a bust, I'm not sure I'll be making that this year.

I entered a hybrid lily, hydrangea, flock, and butterfly bush bloom...in addition to a pink tea rose and an apricot colored climbing rose. (I forgot to take pictures of the roses, but they weren't outstanding, anyway).

The kids had fun entering art projects last year, so in keeping with tradition, they did it again this year.

Jake drew a picture of a bare tree and collected different shades of bark to fill in the spaces. (I had to help with the hot gluing portion)...

He then used sponges cut in the shape of leaves to stamp leaves all around the branches. The little dog at the bottom was also made out of bark. (Hence, the riddle)

In true, clutsy "Shannon style", I somehow managed to let the wind catch the board when I was carrying it into the entry hall. I totally knocked me on the brow bone! Good hell! It was like being nailed by an actual tree limb! (That, along with the heat and the fact that I got pulled over and given a written warning on the way home for turning left in a construction zone where I wasn't supposed to all added to the mood of my day).

This was another art piece that Jake did in school in May, using pastels...

He also entered these two photos in the photography category...(animals and close up)

Reilly drew a picture of a flower and then filled in with different kinds of beans...

I thought this turned out really cute...She's was so excited to carry it to the table when we went to enter.

And last, but not least, Ellie (AKA..."the cub") did this sand art project. It was all I could do to keep her from shaking it up on the way to the grange.

We usually go as a family to the Grange Fair on Friday or Saturday, but this year, since Brian is going to be taking the scouts on a camping trip Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we're going on Wednesday evening.

So...tomorrow's the big day! It feels almost like Christmas Eve in our house...everyone is waiting to see if there will be a ribbon by our name!

***Did a tomato blight affect you this year?

***Do you like going to grange fairs or farm shows?

***Have you ever entered anything in a fair?

***Are you a klutz like me?


  1. I don't have even remotely a green thumb.

    And that is not a bad picture of you!

  2. You are amazing. I'd love to learn how to garden and can and do all those wonderful things we should do for our families. For now, I'll keep trekking to the store.

  3. Wow, I've never known any Fair celebrities before, this is exciting. Apparently you get published regularly! Good luck with everything!

  4. We have a very small garden this year with very little produce. Our boys love watching the garden grow.

    I am definitely a klutz, but my biggest problem is that I have directional disabilities. I'm always making U-turns, getting lost, ect ect. I hope it will be something my kids will laugh about when they grow up.

  5. wheee! i'm excited for you- everything looked great- blue ribbon winners in my book! glad to see that my "bark" idea was used in part- i love jake's spin on it. can't wait to hear the results.

  6. Ahh, i miss the days when we would enter our art projects in the butler fair... You'll have to let us know how it turned out today!

  7. You are so CooL!
    I love that you are entering & the kids too- Wende does this every year.. but not me. I should huh?!!

    I don't know what I would do in that weather? I'm sick thinking about you in it- it sounds so bad- growing up in the west- I'm not sure I can even wrap my mind around that weather? We have had a glorious summer- not too hot compared to years past.

    My tomatoes are gorgeous- sorry-
    but honestly- something is wrong with me. I dont' mind planting & watering, but I hate going out & picking things... I get all itchy & allergies. Chloe does all the harvesting for me. I will post some photos soon.

  8. Wow! Your family is so cool! I almost entered something in the fair this year but the photographs I ordered didn't come back right from the place I ordered them from and I haven't wanted to deal with it sense then. I think it would be fun to do though, so maybe next year. I'm so impressed with all your kids artwork! What a wonderful thing to encourage your children to do! And your husband's squash looks perfect! And your flower arrangement is beautiful! You'll have to let us all know how everything went! (I think your herbs look pretty, too.)

  9. Next year, I'm going with you!

    I'm still waiting for my "stylish garden" shot...

  10. oh my, you are adorable. i have never entered anything in a fair but i really think you are too good to be true. i also say you should frame jake's great photo of the duckies. that one is really special. all the projects really are crazy, you really should be in a magazine or something (oh wait you already were :)

  11. oh yea, how 'bout them flowers? geesh

  12. Your herbs are gorgeous!

    My tomatoes quite often get blight, what's up with that?