Reporter hopes community steps up to support Chestermere Fair's Red Ribbon Competition
As the official photographer for the Red Ribbon Competition at last year’s Chestermere Country Fair, I saw first-hand the puny amount of entries put in to what is supposed to be the most popular part of the annual community event.
It was disappointing to see so few items entered into a competition that was organized (completely by volunteers, I will note) solely to be fun and bring the community together, as it has for the past 22 years.
Perhaps the most perplexing element to the situation is that there is money up for grabs in almost every category, yet still, barely anyone puts in an entry.
I recall staring down at the one cucumber in the vegetable section and saying to myself, “people have a chance to win a $20 prize for one cucumber? I should grow cucumbers.”
The competition is open to anyone who wants to enter, not just local residents, and I know some people in Rocky View must grow some awesome vegetables.
The organizers of the fair work hard to stir up interest in the competition, including.
Last year, a workshop was offered to teach people how to make cinnamon buns. A generous amount of people showed up to the workshop, but how many sticky buns were entered into the fair? Zero!
The more I looked, the more I noticed empty categories. Decorative painting, zero. Pottery: zero. Stained glass: zero. Woodworking: zero. Even embroidery, nothing! Surely someone’s grandmother must embroider!
Some of the aforementioned categories had prize money up for grabs, and because no one entered, the donations were returned to the sponsor. About $600 worth of prize money in the art category was handed back.
Chestermere and the surrounding area is filled with talented people. I know because I’ve been around the block once or twice, including doing the Art Walk last year, so where was the art? The children’s art category was pretty empty as well, which I found odd because kids do things like build Lego and paint pictures all year long, right?
They could have taken home $10 for that leaf collage they made in kindergarten.
It’s not all about the money, though. Simply winning a ribbon for your baking, art or vegetables means it’s a prize-winning item. If you win, you can officially tell your friends, “this is my prize winning insect photo” (yes – that category exists!)
For kids, winning a ribbon is a big deal, so why not enter that beautiful bird feeder you made one afternoon at grandma’s house into the kids’ competition?
Lastly, I think there’s a good feeling about taking part in the fair, which is one of the community’s longest-running events. It gives us a chance to celebrate the talent in our community and do something simple and fun together.
The time is now to start working on your painting, getting out and taking pictures of cute goslings, or planting those vegetables in your garden so that you have something to enter into the fair. If you really have time on your hands, feel free to put in an entry in every single category and potentially walk away with a chunk of prize money. The top winner last year took home $150, mostly from her baking.
I’ve photographed the competition for two years now, and I’m looking forward to it again this year when the fair rolls around on Sept. 7 and 8.
Although I know I will enjoy it either way (and not only because I help with the taste-testing of the desserts) I really hope more people will use the creativity I know they have and enter some things into the fair.
You might be surprised at how many categories there are, and how you already have a talent that fits into one (or 10) of them.
The complete fair booklet is already available in hard copy, and will be available online soon. It can be picked up at the Chestermere Recreation Centre.