Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Day in the Life by Paty Jager

Another passion or element to my life that I enjoy is judging at county and state fairs. I began as a 4-H leader when the girl next door came over when my children were young (she babysat them) and asked if I would be her 4-H leader. Her leader had to quit due to family commitments. I had been a clothing and foods 4-H member for one year each as a youth. I didn't like sewing as a 4th grader but as a high school student enjoyed making clothes. I agreed. That led to my being a 4-H leader for my kids and beyond, I was a leader for over 20 years. While a leader I volunteered during events and soon became employed to run certain events and eventually I was put on the 4-H extension payroll as a part-time 4-H program assistant. This new title and job had me even more involved in the home ec programs. After I left the extension service, I began judging, and love my summers traveling to the county fairs and judging clothing at the state fair.

This week's day in the life is about a judging day. I drove to my daughter's house in Central Oregon on Wednesday. I awoke on Thursday at 6 am and hit the road to Fossil, Or and the Wheeler County Fair at 6:30. I like taking the back roads and while it was smoky from all the fires in the state, after leaving Prineville headed to Madras, the air smelled acrid and not like burning sagebrush. A hay barn alongside the road had smoldering hay strung around the shed. Someone must have put up wet hay and it caught on fire.

At Madras I stopped at the Safeway for breakfast. Two slices of Tillamook cheese and a Starbuck's hot chocolate. All I needed was protein to start the day because I knew I would be eating lots of sugar and carbs. My judging today was foods and canning.

I always enjoy the trip to Fossil. The scenery is rocks and sagebrush and hay fields. Where I turned off Hwy 97 to head toward Fossil, I usually see a flock of wild turkeys but they weren't hanging around the road that day. The road is curvy, along streams and up and down ravines.

The first small town, which is almost a ghost town is Antelope. It still has a few of the old buildings, though they could use some TLC. And a beautiful restored church.
Old building in Antelope
Church in Antelope
The next community I drove through was Clarno. This small valley is green and has a metal bridge you would expect way out here.
Entering Clarno/note bridge in background

Just after the bridge, Two does and three fawns crossed the road. I managed to snap a photo as they stood beside the road after crossing.

About a mile from Clarno and all the way to almost three miles before Fossil, I had burnt hills on my right side.  Not only was the air filled with smoke but the poor landscape was bleak.
views of the burnt ground

And then I arrived at Fossil. It is a small town and close farming community. I enjoy judging here because of the fun rivalry they have. First they gathered the three judges and we had to judge small displays that groups in the community made. Once that was over we went to areas we were judging.

I don't feel as knowledgeable about canning and was happy to see they had a lot less this year. Not good for the fair, but good for me.  I judged that first to get it out of the way. There were a couple of standout jams and fruit., Lots of canned apricot products. There was a good apricot crop this year in Kimberly. This is an area not too far from fossil that has fruit tree orchards.

After the canning I began judging the foods. This county has the usual classes for different types of cakes, cookies, pies, breads and the like, but they also have special contests where everyone uses the same recipe and enters their cake or bread. This contest is the most fun to judge. And this year there were more entrants and half of them were there to watch me judge. One was new to the whole entering things in fair and asked lots of questions. But the fun part was when I picked the top three winners in the King or Queen of the kitchen and a lady stuck her fist in the air and yelled, "Yes, I beat my husband!" She was afraid if he beat her she'd never hear the end of it. And in the other contest a young lady who had helped clerk at the fair before was the winner, making her grandmother very happy. As I picked winners in the different classes I'd hear, "I beat you, Betty!"  Or "Darn, my sister beat me," from the people hanging around or wandering through. It is  a lot of fun to see people excited for one another.

I enjoy when there is something I haven't had before and it fits in my favorites category. This time it was peppermint divinity candy. Yum!

I finished judging about 1:30. I was full of sugar and sloshing from the water I drank to wash the tastes away.  And in case you were wondering: I only cut apiece about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch to taste things.

On the way back I stopped at the Clarno Unit: John Day Fossil Beds to use the restroom. It's about 18 miles from Fossil. Other trips through here, I've walked the trails and looked at the fossils in the rocks.

The trip back was uneventful. I arrived back at our daughter's. They were all at their county fair, but the granddaughters had finished showing for the day, so hubby took me to dinner and then I took my flashdrive with photos I plan to enter in the Harney County Fair to Walgreens and had them developed.

And that was another day in my life. 

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