A Day at the Fair

A few months ago, I got an email from a knitting student asking if I’d be interested in being a knitting & crochet judge for the 4H kids at the annual county fair. Apparently in my area there is a very strong contingent of young knitters and she thought I would have a lot to offer them. I jumped at the chance — I had no doubt that spending a day talking with the next generation of local knitters would be both a great challenge & a wonderful opportunity. After discussing the nuts & bolts of the task with the area coordinator, I formally agreed to take on the job and filled out & sent in my application to the state. A couple weeks later I received my state license to judge county & district fairs in Wisconsin in 3 categories. To say I was pretty excited is a total and complete understatement.

When the day finally came, I will admit that I was also pretty nervous. So nervous, that I utterly failed to take photos except for one when all was said & done.

20130819-112511.jpgThankfully my nerves settled almost immediately and I had just an awesome time. I was lucky enough to split the work load (I believe there were well over 100entries) with a veteran judge who shared her knowledge with me & helped me get comfortable. I was also taken care of so wonderfully by those in my section; from the superintendent who made sure everything ran smoothly to the rest of the team who seamlessly kept things rolling. They were really so fantastic!

Most of all though, I was so impressed by the young crafters. The competition is set-up so that for each entry in the area I was judging the young person received a face-to-face consultation with a judge who then awarded a first, second, third, or fourth placement based on the item and presentation. By and large these kids were articulate, enthusiastic, creative, and always very open to critique. I was completely wowed by what some of these kids took on, too. Some kids knitted sweaters. Some taught themselves short rows. Some worked lace shawls with multiple lace charts. Some deciphered how to add colors in their crochet. I have taught adults afraid to teach themselves what these kids bravely took on — it was so incredibly inspiring!

Going in I really didn’t know what to expect, but I soon discovered that this gig was really just a condensed version of how I teach. We’d look at what was done well and what could be improved. We’d then discuss how those improvements could be made as well as what they were doing well & should keep up. Because it was a ‘show’ I’d slip in a bit on the magic of blocking & how to prepare fiber creations so they look their best.  I so appreciated how hungry these kids were to learn and loved being able to pass along some of my experience & advice to them. I think the future is very, very bright for the future of knitting in my community!

Despite my lack of photos, I just had to write a little post about this incredibly rewarding experience. To the person who recommended me for the position, those who helped me prepare, the talented kids who I worked with, and all those who organized & ran the event — I offer you a huge THANK YOU!  I’m so honored that I was able to be a part of this event and I hope the I have the pleasure again in the future!

6 thoughts on “A Day at the Fair

  1. Meaning in no way to denigrate the youngsters or their courage, I feel it’s often the case that they haven’t yet learnt to be afraid to jump in where older folk might hesitate! Sometimes I think they haven’t yet learnt to be afraid, which translates to their having an “I can do anything” attitude. This is a wonderful attribute that needs to be heartily encouraged – so very well done on being part of getting that next generation well on the way.

    1. I think you are absolutely right – most of them had no idea how big of a deal their accomplishments were. It was very fun to tell them! And talk about inspiring to see that lack of fear! Every time I think about it, I feel luckier that I got to be there!

  2. Sounds fun! I always wonder how people get to be county/state fair judges. I had a friend enter a shawl that wound up being displayed WS out this year, and another whose picture-covered blanket was draped in a way that made it difficult to tell what the pictures were. Must be tough to judge those!

    1. Thankfully in my case it was face-to-face and I could handle the items. I would assume judges are taking them out & taking time to study entries, but I can’t say for certain.

      I didn’t know how one became a judge either – I had no idea you had to be state licensed, but there you go – we learn something new every day!

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