Garden Diary - August 2013

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Thursday, 22 August 2013
A Morning at the Fair, Part II

It's time, time for the Hunterdon County 4-H Fair and Agricultural Show at the fair grounds in Ringoes, New Jersey. Livestock from cows and horses, sheep and goats, poultry and rabbits. Agricultural exhibits from all the usual vegetables to pickles and preserves, hay bales, baked goods and more. The Northwest Jersey Beekeepers have a competitive show and honey for sale. We always go to the fair, and today's the day.

I've visited the livestock barns, from goats to sheep, horses to cows. Since I'm now at the back of the fairgrounds my next visit will be agriculture - all the produce, preserves, hay (did you know that bales of hay have a competition?) And the beekeepers have their honey here too.

Produce is not as attention-grabbing as the livestock. Sits there quietly on a plain white paper plate, no movement, no noises, few visitors, no little children enthralled with the goats or cows. But as I stroll past the displays I find much to be admired. Luscious looking produce in a rainbow of colors. Come have a look.

Tomatoes, satin-skinned and bursting with juice and flavor.

Cucumbers, crisp and crunchy.

Zucchini. Here, I differ with the judges. I like mine smaller, more tender than these.

But I guess it's all relative when you compare them to this blue ribbon pumpkin.

Sweet bell peppers, and on the upper level, frying peppers.

Just outside the exhibition tent is a wonderful display of chile peppers on an old farm wagon. Huge plants in pots, well labeled and with good descriptions. This is something new this year, and an interesting addition.

Long, squat, green, yellow, orange, red - a diversity of shapes, colors, and Scoville heat ratings.


In a rather poorly lit corner is the display of pickles and preserves. If memory serves there were more entries last year. Perhaps next year I should enter some of my own preserves and pickles.

There's a whole section for the competitive hay bale entries. Here's the blue ribbon winner. I don't know enough to appreciate what makes this one so superior to the others. Perhaps it would be nice if they had an explanation, something that says what the judges would be looking for and how points are awarded.

I've worked my way down to the far end of the tent from where I entered, and reached the Northwest Jersey Beekeepers section.

The honey is displayed in uniform glass jars, three jars per entry, with colors ranging from translucent pale gold to deep opaque dark brown. Color varies, influenced by the flowers from which bees gathered the honey. Clover, most familiar to many people, is golden. Buckwheat (a favorite of mine) is quite dark.

Best in show went to this jar of pale amber honey.

There's more than just honey. Blocks of beeswax and bottles of mead are also in competition. I was told that this prize-winning bottle is a dry version, not overly sweet as mead can often be.

The clouds are getting more ominous. I follow through on my plan, dashing through the dog clubs tent and on into the poultry, small animal, and reptile tent. I think Paul and I may end up going home sooner rather than later.

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