The kids have wanted to enter items at the county fair for several years. I have been hesitant to let them do so because I didn’t want to deal with hurt feelings, hyper-competitiveness, etc. Early in the summer, the girls again began to talk about entering items at the fair, so I gave my usual speeches. You know how they go: “I guess I really wouldn’t mind taking things to the fair as long as you understand that ribbons are simply judges’ opinions. If you are happy with your projects, then that’s all that matters. I don’t want you getting discouraged because you may not get the ribbon you think you deserve. I also don’t want you to brag if your project gets a better ribbon than someone else’s. That’s just not right, and if that happens, we won’t do it again.” And so on…. The girls assured me that they understood all of these things, so I decided to give it a try this year.
So, the girls picked out some of their favorite crafts from the past year to enter. Then the week before the fair, Cosette started working on a painted star craft just for fun. The more she worked on it, the more she liked it, and she thought she might like to take it to the fair too. Well, she painted the front, but didn’t finish it for several days. I kept reminding her that she’d need to finish it or she wouldn’t be able to take it to the fair. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll finish it on time. I’ll work on it later!” It sat, and sat, and sat, until the morning that the entries were to be taken to the fair. I told her that I guessed the star would have to stay at home. She thought she could still finish it, though, and got busy painting it.
I told her that I didn’t think it would have time to dry. After all, the star base is a soft cardboard. Using watercolor paints just soaked that cardboard! The whole thing was absolutely soggy! She kept painting, though. The star was so wet that when we picked it up by the hanger, the star tore! I told her that it really was just too late to get that star into the fair, but again she assured me that it would all be ok. She’d fix it up with hot glue and set it on an air vent to dry. By noon that day, the star was dry enough to attach the bling, so she looked through what I had on hand, and we ran the star along with our other entries to the fair.
On the way to the fair, I again reminded Cosette not to be too disappointed about ribbons–especially on the star that was thrown together at the last minute. I told her and Kara both that there is no way to predict how these things will be judged, and they said they understood that, and really just wanted the fun of seeing their projects at the fair. So, we filled out the entries, left the projects, and went on our way.
The next day was the fair parade. The girls were on the library’s float, and we were to pick them up at the fair after the parade. When I went to the building to meet them, Kara came up to me and said that they had found their projects in the display cabinets, but that they really didn’t understand the ribbons. “Oh, no, here it goes….” I thought! Kara went on to say that her lampshade and Cosette’s key chains both had blue ribbons, but that Cosette’s star was in a separate case with a purple ribbon on it. They didn’t know what a purple ribbon was! I couldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself: yes, Cosette’s star that I almost did not let her enter won Grand Champion!
Needless to say, the girls were very pleased with their entries. I did remind them that even though the star got a good ribbon, putting projects together at the very last minute is really not the best plan for making fair entries. I told them that really these things should be planned and put together with great care, and they both agreed that they will work on things throughout the year that we can enter in next year’s fair. Brock has also expressed interest in entering something, and, who knows? Maybe I’ll even put something out there. Of course, there will be the usual speeches about not getting too ribbon-focused, etc., etc.,!
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