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Tangled Branches: Cultivated

happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The County Fair, Part 4 (Livestock)

I like chickens. I don't have any, so when I go to fairs I always have to see the chickens. I wish they had other poulty at the Sandwich Fair as well, but apparently only chickens are allowed.

It is a chicken. Honestly.

Rabbits with eye makeup? Looks like it, but they're a breed called Dwarf Hotot. The eyeliner is part of the standard.

The larger livestock is a little harder to photograph unless you get a chance to see the judging. This cow apparently won a red ribbon, whether she wanted to be in the show or not.


posted by Entangled at 2:39 PM
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The County Fair, Part 3 (Horticulture/Agriculture)

Taking advantage of today's wet weather to post the rest of the pictures I took at the Sandwich Fair last week. I decided to break this into several posts so as not to crash your browser. First up, the rest of the Horticulture and Agronomy displays.

Popcorn, my second favorite food.

Big is important at the fair. These dahlias were the size of lunch plates. (Dinner plates are bigger than they used to be. Lunch plates are now the size of dinner plates.)

The blue ribbon pumpkin weighed something over 300 pounds, if I remember correctly.


posted by Entangled at 2:16 PM
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Friday, September 11, 2009

The County Fair, Part 2

A short selection of pictures from the Horticulture displays at the Sandwich Fair yesterday. More pictures to come when I get them edited. There's plenty to see at the fair besides horticulture: rabbits, chickens, cows, needlework, baking, canning, and antique engines to name just a few.

Above is the "new" Horticulture Building (did you notice the very tall sunflowers at the entrance?). The "old" Horticulture Building was shown in the previous post. The following description of the "old" Horticulture Building is from The Sandwich Fair, Since 1888, published in 2001 by The Sandwich Fair Association, Inc., Sandwich, Illinois.
When Floral Hall was replaced in 1905, it was recognized that provision of separate areas for different types of displays would be beneficial, so $2,000 was expended for a building specifically dedicated to horticulture and agricultural products.

This original Horticulture building was an octagonal structure forty-eight feet in diameter. It housed exhibits of fruits, vegetables, grains, floral arrangements, baked goods and needlework. Having a hall specifically dedicated to horticulture has contributed further confusion to the potpourri of building names. In the minds of some, it properly became Floral Hall since it now housed the flowers. A large addition was added to this building in 1915.

In 1931, leaf burning was cited as the cause of a fire that destroyed the hall. Firemen quickly arrived on the scene, and they thought they had the smoldering fire under control; however, the tinder-dry frame structure suddenly burst into flames. The firemen's efforts were turned to saving nearby buildings.


posted by Entangled at 9:05 AM
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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The County Fair, Part 1

Hexagonal building labeled Horticulture, Sandwich Fair. 1906.
Poets call autumn the melancholy season, but to American farmers it was the season of fulfillment and a time of rejoicing. Why else would they have chosen September as the Season of Fairs?

Eric Sloane, The Seasons of America Past

Virginia is a wonderful place with a rich agricultural history, but its county fairs leave a lot to be desired. So I'm off to Illinois to see a good county fair - The Sandwich Fair. You see, I'm interested most in the agricultural and homemaking exhibits, and the Sandwich Fair has them in abundance.

Here's Eric Sloane again, lamenting the decline of the county fair:

European fairs, and those of early colonial days, involved the sale of cattle and produce, but the Great American Fair became a farmer's holiday and general exhibition where prizes were given for products and handiwork of the community.

The downfall of the old-time American agricultural fair to the level of the modern American carnival is regarded by many as a national disgrace which belittles the institution of farming. The introduction of a circus midway has made the agricultural exhibits only a side show to the fair, and many of America's oldest fairs have degenerated into collections of barkers, salesmen, freak shows, Ferris wheels, and "girly shows." The farmer's carnival of today is far removed from the institution it was a century ago.

Well, yes, but the agricultural side of the fair is still important in the Midwest, and that's why I'm traveling there to see it.

I'll have full report later, but in the meantime you could read a general history of agricultural fairs in the 19th century, or the history of the Sandwich Fair.


posted by Entangled at 8:45 AM
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