In the 60s & 70s, two summer entertainment high points for rural Indiana families was the County 4-H Fair in July and the State Fair in August. In those days school didn’t start until after Labor Day, so the State Fair was considered by most to be the last hoorah of summer—fun for the whole family. For the Griffiths, the last hoorah was actually Labor Day weekend at the lake, but that’s another story or 2 or 5….
Anyway….like all Crafty Clovers, I worked for months making the perfect item for each of my projects—whether it was the Bug Box described in I Was a Crafty Clover: Pt. 1 or a skirt or a bulletin board or a photo display or a jar of jelly. But a few days before the Hendricks County Fair, our house was transformed into 4-H Project Central. My entire family attended to last minute details—my sisters were also Crafty Clovers and had projects too. Items required starching, pressing, gluing, pinning, stapling, dusting, wrapping, and labeling to be presentation worthy, and baking, at the last minute, to ensure optimal freshness.
Once all the prep was complete, we loaded everything into the car and Mom drove us to Danville on Entry Day. The projects were presented to volunteers who organized the exhibit displays for judging. Hendricks County has 12 townships and each one of those had at least one 4-H club, so there were 100s of kids with a thousand or two project entries—and here I thought our house was chaos with just the five of us working! Once we handed our projects over, we all went home to wait.
I, like most people, was never privy to the actual judging process, but I imagined a bunch of Grandma Waltons moving from table to table, peering through bifocals, tasting and touching and sniffing and measuring and writing comments on paper-filled clipboards. After a tally and vote, they’d place a ribbon on each entry—1st /Blue, 2nd /Red, 3rd /White, and the dreaded, Participation—“Whatever that is, it’s not good enough.” /Green. Then the Grandmas went back through the building, looking even closer at the Blue ribbon winners. They chose a Champion from the Blues in each category. When finished, they turned off the lights, locked the door, and secreted away so that nobody knew their true identities and, thus, weren’t able to exact revenge—or whatever….
The next day we impatiently waited for Dad to get home so we could go to back to Danville. The fair wasn’t just 4-H exhibits—it was also a carnival & midway, a tractor pull and/or a demolition derby, an open-air food court where the best breaded tenderloin sandwich with a side order of creamy coleslaw could be bought, a commercial display show, and probably most importantly, a place for Mom and Dad to visit with people they hadn’t seen “in a hundred years.” Our first stop, though, was the 4-H exhibits so that we could see what we won, and could chat with our friends about our awards. Guess all my hard work and family support paid off—overall, I earned four Red ribbons, seventeen Blues, and three Champions as a Crafty Clover.
Next up in I Was a Crafty Clover: Pt. 3—Hogs!
It’s been nice chatting with you all. I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes. I’d love to help!