The 78th Annual North Florida Fair is coming to Tallahassee November 7 through the 17. Many of us look forward to our annual dose of funnel cakes, cotton candy, rides, and racing pigs. Others are preparing to show off their wares. It’s a tradition that goes way, way back and provides the community a place to celebrate local artisans and farmers. The North Florida Fair, first celebrated in 1939 at the Leon County Armory (currently the Senior Center), brings the residents of 24 surrounding counties together in Tallahassee to connect and share in the culture of north Florida. If you would like to add to the richness and diversity of arts, crafts, treats, and other goods, now is the time to prepare your exhibits.
There are dozens of exhibitor types, or departments, split into hundreds of categories, or classes, that you can enter, and you’re not limited to entering just one. The whole family can get involved as there are separate divisions for adults and youth. Some departments even have a division just for professionals. If you’re an agricultural producer, you can show off your livestock or enter home-grown fruits and vegetables, fresh, canned, pickled, or preserved. If cooking is your thing, enter your breads, cakes, cookies, candies, and/or pies. A popular baking competition is the King Arthur Flour Baking Contest and this year’s recipe to make is their Easy Whole Grain Pumpkin-Banana Bread. Fermenters can also enter their favorite wines, ales, and liqueur concoctions. For the artists, there is a wide range of classes to choose from, including painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture. Craftsmen and craftswomen that create jewelry, glass mosaics, pottery, or woodworks have a separate class. All you gardeners have the chance to show off your prized perennial plant, indoor potted plant, succulent, and more in the Capital City Garden Club’s Flower Show.
In addition to the pride that comes along with being a blue-ribbon award winner, there are prize awards for all class entries. Most are quite modest ($3) but can get into the $100 range. And remember, you can enter multiple classes!
Most exhibits are due just before the fair begins or during the first week, depending on the category, and, in general, they can be any item created during the last year or not previously entered. The North Florida Fair website (http://northfloridafair.com/) contains all the details for each exhibit department, including rules, arrival times, scoring criteria, and any special rules.
If you don’t enter an exhibit, you can still come and enjoy the rides, people-watching, and fair food, but please stop in and visit the exhibit buildings. Not only is it a nice diversion from the jester wanting to guess your weight or a much-needed break from the gut-wrenching rides, it’s a chance to appreciate the work, skill, and creativity of all the local youth and adults who created a best-in-show piece of artwork or raised a blue-ribbon chicken.