WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - The 88th annual Appalachian District Fair is up and running. The theme this year is "Blue Ribbon Days and Hot Country Nights."
There's really nothing like bringing home that blue ribbon for the best of any fair competition. That competition is getting stiffer every year in every category.
If it has been created, grown, or tended to, you'll find it in the farm and home building at this year's Appalachian District Fair. "We have a little over 5,000 entries this year. We're up this year. We're excited, horticulture is fabulous, our children's crafts are up, we're up a little bit everywhere," Lisa Bradley, director of the farm and home building says.
The judging for this year's crops have been completed, but the judging for the best honey is still in the process.
When it's all said and done, it's about that blue ribbon and the year's worth of bragging rights that go with it. "[The prize] isn't much money. You get a little bit of money for each prize, but there's not much. It's just seeing that blue ribbon that's the treat," Blue ribbon winner Peggy Calkins said.
Peggy and her husband have done rather well this year with a lot of entries in a lot of categories. "When you're picking for the fair you've got to pick three items that are almost the same size in most categories. No blemishes or things like that. For tomatoes, for instance, we've got the cherries and the tommy-toes, we have plenty for that category. But for the big, ripe tomatoes, they were hardly coming in yet," says husband and blue ribbon winner Bob Calkins.
He's particularly interested in how his honey is doing. He's vice president of the Washington County Beekeepers Club and he's seen a lot of new beekeepers get involved. "I've attended our bee schools for 20 some years and we've never had such a turnout. We had as many as 350-plus the first night, the second night 250 and during our Saturday session we had like 150 which is outstanding," he said.
That success could lead to more competition for next year's fair. But in reality, the more bees, the more crops, and more blue ribbons.