I spent most of the day in Puyallup serving as one of three judges for the honey and beeswax exhibits at the Puyallup Fair. It was a bit of a drive but a fun experience. I was very fortunate to have Louis Matej's able assistance to guide me through the process. Louis is the chairman of the Masterbeekeeper Committee and is one of a handful of master beekeepers in Washington State. I took my camera but got so absorbed into the process that I forgot to take any pictures.
I felt very well qualified to judge the actual honey and beeswax exhibits, The criteria are fairly objective so its merely a matter of being consistent. I was a little less comfortable with some of the other areas such as the educational and art displays where the grading is very subjective. I particularly enjoyed judging the honey baked goods which included cookies, corn bread, several different sweet breads, granola, muffins, candy, and an apple pie. We also judged beekeeping gadgets, other hive products (including a honey facial mask), pollen, and mead. I had to recuse myself from judging the flavor of the mead but they had a willing volunteer who stepped up to take my place for that portion of the judging.
Having entered stuff in the fair myself I know what it feels like so I wanted to be encouraging. On the other hand, ribbons are supposed to reward excellence and they lose their meaning if they're given too easily. We gave perfect scores to one of the extracted honey entries, the one pollen entry, and a few of the baked items. They really were flawless. One the other hand , I had no problem finding good reason to subtract points on a number of the honey entries and the candles.
Unexpectedly, I was given $50.00 and two fair passes as compensation for serving as a judge. This was more than I would have gotten for jury duty and it more than covered my gas and lunch. Also, one of the friendly grange people came by giving away sweet corn. We had it for dinner this evening and it was about as good as I've ever had. It was definitely deserving of a blue ribbon.
As much as I enjoy our local Evergreen State Fair, I have to admit that the Puyallup Fair is more of a class act. The facilities are much nicer and newer. I was told that the Puyallup Fair is the 4th largest in the U.S. which is hard to imagine. I'm not sure I'll even get to use my free fair passes with our trip to Disneyland next week. We'll see how much time and energy I have left after Disneyland this coming week.