Grow Fair-Winning Vegetables
Displaying crops at the fair can bring satisfaction as others view your home-grown accomplishments. It can even be somewhat profitable if you are awarded a prize for the best produce on display. But for those who feel their veggies are not worthy of a blue ribbon, or who entered in the past and didn’t win, here are a few suggestions that can help an average-looking carrot win a coveted prize.
Remember that most judges enjoy eating as much as the next person, and it is important to display produce that looks delectable. Imagine you are selecting produce to sell. Better yet, ask yourself if you would pay good money to buy your own fruits and vegetables. Make sure the produce is clean. A judge isn’t likely to award a ribbon to a soil-covered cantaloupe or a partially green potato damaged in harvesting. Also select produce that is insect and disease-free for display. Make sure fruit is ripe and at its edible prime. Usually, it is the best specimen, not the biggest, that gets the top prize. A carrot that could double as a softball bat or a cucumber the size of a small Caribbean island are not blue ribbon items. When displaying more than one of a particular vegetable, select those that are blemish-free and that look as similar as possible. They should be the same size, shape and color. For example, when displaying 10 green beans, it is better to display 10 good green beans that look alike, rather than five perfect beans with five less than desirable beans. Remember to make the produce look as good as possible on the plate. People who take the time to neatly organize the produce on a plate generally score better than those who just toss it on the nearest plastic lid. Be sure to read the fair’s Premium Book for help in selecting the proper number of vegetables and fruits to display. The time to know this information is before going to the garden to harvest, not after arriving at the fair and discovering you needed 10 green beans, but you only have nine. Follow the directions. If it says to take the tops off the tomatoes, take them off. If it says to keep the scales on an onion, leave them on to display.
If you have questions, call the chairman before the fair. The phone number for the crop supervisor is usually listed in the Premium Book, which can be picked up at the fairgrounds or your local Extension office. If displaying your own produce is too intimidating, drop by the crops building to admire what others have grown. You may find that your produce looks every bit as good as the blue ribbon winners at the fair.
By: Jerry Goodspeed - Jul. 11, 2006