For the bragging rights: Fair exhibits include new contest, encourage participation

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By Amber Coulter

Magistrate Lisa Williams said her experiences qualified her to be one of the judges in the newest Hardin County Fair and Horse Show competition.


“I have owned a lot of hideous lamps in my life and I yard sale a lot, and you see a lot at yard sales,” she said.

The fair’s 50th anniversary kicked off Monday with judging in the culinary, flower and garden and fruit departments, as well as for the ugly lamp contest.

Williams said she was recruited at a yard sale to be a judge when she ran across fair board member Teri Bennett.

“I thought it was great,” she said. “I love it. Sounds fun.”

Williams was on the lookout for tacky, eye-catching entries to award the $300 in prize money.

Bennett said cash prizes and the uniqueness of the competition likely contributed to the first-time event drawing 16 entries, more than organizers expected.

“It’s just unheard of,” she said. “It’s phenomenal.”

She hopes the contest will become an annual addition to the fair to encourage community participation in a fun, interesting way.

Lamps were rated in two categories, “born ugly” and “made ugly.”

The “born ugly” lamps included a desk lamp with two Clydesdale horses on the stand, a table lamp with a base like orange magma and a hanging lamp covered in tan velvet.

The more heavily entered “made ugly” category featured a small entry with a shade designed from feathers and a fried chicken bucket with a squeaking rubber chicken at the base, and an entry balanced on a stand shaped like a woman’s leg in a fishnet stocking similar to the one featured in the movie “A Christmas Story.”

Other categories evaluated Monday were less whimsical.

The garden and fruit judging included 102 entries, up from about 80 last year.

Amy Aldenderfer, judge and Hardin County Extension agent for horticulture, was surprised to get so many entries because of a wet spring that caused a delay in the harvest of some produce.

Entrants are motivated by bragging rights, not the $2 cash prizes that have remained the same for the past 50 years, she said.

Aldenderfer also was pleasantly surprised to see more master gardeners than she needed show up Monday to help with judging.

She spent time reviewing with the judges characteristics they should look for, such as uniformity, ripeness and lack of blemishes.

The flower category also boasted a lot of judging experience.

Five judges peered closely at one specimen after another of lilies, dried flower arrangements and other examples of floral accomplishment. They rotated horticulture entries in the light and held them next to each other looking for bug bites and investigating design entries for their adherence to show principles such as color and balance.

Three other women followed them to hang ribbons from the vases of the top picks.

Master Judge JoAnn Gilpin of Elizabethtown said flower judging is about education.

Judges scribbled on some entry tags the reason for their decision to make sure contestants learned for next year.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.