Bigger is not always better

Mohave County Fair entries come in all shapes and sizes

KINGMAN - Have you ever given thought of entering your prize-winning roses, cut flowers, or fruit and vegetable crops for competition at the county fair? Many of you have these prize winners but fail to enter them.

The 65th Annual Mohave County Fair will be held Sept. 15-18 at the Mohave County Fairgrounds.

To enter, you must submit an entry form by Friday for general exhibits, Sept. 2 for livestock and small animals, and Sept. 9 for gymkhana and horse show entries.

The item to be exhibited should then be taken to the fairgrounds just prior to the fair. See the Fair Book for delivery dates, rules and regulations, and have fun entering.

This year's Mohave County Fair Books are available at the Mohave County Fairgrounds office, city complexes, feed stores, senior centers, public libraries, hobby shops, Mohave Community College campuses, and many more locations.

It is also available on the internet at www.mcfafairgrounds.org, where you can print entry forms to be mailed in.

During my many years at fairs, I've heard people say, "Compared with those that won blue ribbons, I have better looking roses in my garden." Many of you do have such specimens and they should have been entered to win a prize.

Most flower shows and fairs are open to all. It is not necessary to be a member of a club. Competing for cash and prizes is easy and it makes the fair a lot more interesting when you are an exhibitor. Rules are generally very simple and can be obtained in advance.

Gardeners often fail to enter specimens in shows and fairs for a simple reason: They don't know what constitutes a good entry. Some enter specimens that are disqualified and are not considered for prizes for many reasons. For example: the wrong number of specimens, wrong size, poor condition or excessive defects.

I recall several fairs in which individuals entered the correct number of zucchini squash, but the entry was not considered for an award because the specimens were too large. Specimen size is important, and it is determined by what the public buys at the produce counter.

Do you want zucchini squash that are 18 to 24 inches long or those that measure eight to 10? Thus, biggest is not always best, though there are exceptions to this rule. Some fairs offer prizes for the largest pumpkin, watermelon or sunflower head. Unless specified as "largest," you should base entry size on consumer preference.

Other than size, what does a judge look for? Is the entry typical of the variety? This might include: color, shape and variety.

Specimen uniformity is important, especially when more than one is entered for judging. Regardless of whether the specimens are roses, zinnias, carrots or citrus - all should be of the same size, color and shape. If one of the specimens differs from the others, it can be a reason for not awarding a prize.

Specimens entered for competition should be in excellent condition. When competition is close, judges will look for the slightest imperfection in order to narrow the field down to first, second and third.

Entering flowers in shows requires somewhat more knowledge compared to that required for fruits and vegetables. Length of the stems, size of the flowers and maturity of flower buds are just a few important points to consider.

For example, most roses are entered as a single stem, but some entries call for three. A group of three roses should have an unopened bud, one partially opened, and a third opened with the inner portion partially exposed.

If you are reluctant to enter specimens for competition, you might try asking individuals who have competed.

Exhibiting is not limited to flowers and vegetables. You may have prize winning livestock, small animals, clothing, cookies, pies or preserves and not even know it.

An added benefit of entering the fair is all exhibitors will receive a entry pass to the fair, a $5 value, so you can go to the fair and see how your entry did.

We hope to see you at the fair!