GRAY, Tenn. - It's fair time as the Applachian District Fair gets under in Gray, Tennessee. It's a time to find out who won those coveted blue ribbons.
The Farm and Home Building at the Appalachian Fair is one of the most visited sites on the fairgrounds. Inside you'll learn who has earned those coveted blue ribbons for best vegetables, jams and jellies, and even honey.
"They estimate that somewhere around 220,000 [people] come on to the grounds, and about half of that or better will actually come through this building. That's a lot of people when you're thinking about Northeast Tennessee," says building director Lisa Bradley.
But the fair isn't the fair without knowing who is the best at growing, sewing or canning, and the competition is intense. "The competition is tough. The stuff is beautiful. Everything that comes in is beautiful, all of the food is tasty," Bradley said.
The judging is intense too. Take honey, for example; it's just taste, right? "Only about 10 points of 100 is allowed for taste or flavor," said Lynday Rizzardi, president of the Tennessee Beekeepers Association.
Special equipment is used to examine each jar and each comb; even the bees themselves are given the once over.
But sadly, again this season there are fewer and fewer bees. "We'd like to have more and more beekeepers in the state of Tennessee, but we've lost so many [bees]. They died, they didn't survive," Rizzardi said.
There's one thing you'll learn when you visit their exhibit -- just how valuable these little creatures are to all of us according the president. "If we lost our bees, within one year there would be no humanity in the United States. They pollinate about one of every three bites of food that we eat," she said.
There is lots to learn and see about where our food comes from with a visit to the fair.
The Appalachian District Fair runs thru August 24. For more information about the fair click here.