WEST END FAIR: Worthy of blue
Danielle Simpson holds up her 7-year-old daughter Elizabeth Simpson of Effort beside Elizabeth’s painting of a narwhal that won a first-place ribbon in the Youth School Exhibit. Narwhals are Elizabeth’s favorite animal. ASPEN SMITH/TIMES NEWS
Judge George Perry compares apples at the West End Fair Sunday morning.
if the gardeners, artists and bakers of Monroe County could have slipped into the West End Fair exhibit buildings Sunday morning, they would finally know why their entry did (or didn’t) get that coveted blue ribbon.
“We kind of have an idea of what they should look like in our mind,” Jeff Barton said of the vegetables he was judging with Scott and Brenda Bush.
The judges carefully felt through a row of eggplants laid out on a table. They set aside soft or blemished eggplants as they narrowed down their choices.
“I think of what a customer would want to purchase,” Brenda Bush said. She pointed to one eggplant: “If I ate eggplant I would buy that.”
In the next row, judge George Perry held up two apples from different plates to compare them. Perry has been judging fruit for 15 years and currently judges at eight fairs.
“(The West End Fair is) one of the best when it comes to quality,” Perry said.
Perry looks for uniformity and trueness to variety among other things.
In an older wooden exhibit building, travel photographer Chris Souza held up a framed black-and-white photograph of young girls in dance costumes, discussing its qualities with fellow judge Rachel Keslosky.
Souza described what makes this photo taken by Katie Alicea outstanding, mentioning the stark contrast, the costumes, and the unique body posture of each child that expresses her personality.
Photography entries have skyrocketed recently, said assistant secretary Julie Weiss.
This year, there were 40 photos entered in the animal category alone.
When you have that many entries, winning photos have to “go beyond cute,” said judge Julie Kresge. “That animal needs to talk to you.”
It’s very hard to choose between some outstanding pieces of art, said art judge Pat Krome. She looks for the details to help her decide. Framed work has an edge, and so do finished canvasses.
When it comes to flowers, the plant that wins best of show is “not the biggest one, it’s simply the one that’s the most perfect,” said judge Linda Kortz.
Kortz looks for vases of cut flowers with matching stems and blossoms just in bloom. To get this kind of uniformity, gardeners should grow a couple of plants so that they have more blossoms to choose from.
Kortz also advised gardeners to cut their flowers a day before they bring them and to put them in cool water so that they won’t wilt in the hot exhibit building.
On Monday afternoon, participants searched the exhibit buildings to see how they had done.
In the school exhibit, Elizabeth Simpson, 7, found four blue first-place ribbons, two red second-place ribbons, a white third-place ribbon and a green participation ribbon.
Elizabeth wanted all the colors and got all the colors, her mother Danielle Simpson said.
Elizabeth participated for the first time this year. Danielle started doing art with Elizabeth when she was 2, and Elizabeth painted and built her entries at home.
Elizabeth was disappointed not to have won a Best of Show this year, but Danielle encouraged her to keep trying next year.
In the art exhibit building, another first-time participant was excited to discover the ribbons she won.
Erika Penny entered 13 art pieces that varied from a three-dimensional plastic canvas chessboard to a bouquet of flowers made out of beads. Eleven of her creations won first place, she said.
“This is very fun, this is exciting,” Penny said.
Penny started creating art 13 years ago when a co-worker taught her to cross-stitch. Now she does many types of art, though her favorite is plastic canvas. She sells some of her work at craft sales or special events.