This is the weekend of the Cowichan Exhibition, and all of us here at Mucky Boots are pretty darn excited. Because after being enchanted by all things local and agricultural at last year's fair, this year we decided to pull up our farmer pants and participate.
Kim entered six chickens: Hector the Magnificent, three Black Australorp cockerels including Hector Junior, and two Buff Orpington cockerels. (She decided to leave the pullets at home to save our future egg-layers from what can be a stressful experience.) Here they are, when we dropped them off on Thursday night.
And I entered four preserves: blueberry chutney, in the fruit chutney class; the infamous gooseberry and lavender jelly that turned into a syrup and then back into a jelly, in the jelly-with-pectin class; bumbleberry jam (made with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb) in the jam-with-pectin class; and peach and cranberry jam, in the jam-without-pectin class.
You're going to have to stay tuned for the results, because the judging hasn't finished yet. But we did go down this morning to check on the chickens and have a good look around before the crowds hit tonight. And I am even more charmed this year than last.
I spent most of my time in the big hall housing the Domestic Science and Hobbies & Crafts divisions. And I became convinced of the genius of the organizers: if there are so many categories that practically anyone can find a niche to fit into, everyone will go home happy. It reminds me of the birthday party hat-decorating contests my parents would organize when I was a kid. There would be a prize for the hat with the most bows, and the most colourful hat, and the hat best exemplifying the party theme, and so on - the big idea being to send everyone home with a prize.
At the Cowichan Exhibition there are prizes for the best decorated cookies (the photo at the top), the best decorated cake (this won Second Prize and was way better than the First prize winner) . . .
. . . the best decorated cake made by a kid (that's the Kinsol Trestle, a local and recently restored historic train trestle) . . .
. . . as well as prizes for the best choux pastry, the best shortbread, the best squares made with cereal, the best cinnamon buns, the best apple pie and my favourite: the best selection of three dainties of any kind displayed on a doily. In all there are fifty-five different classes that have to do with baking. And then there's jams and jellies, and pickles, and tomato sauce, and mincemeat, and canned salmon. And that's just in the Domestic Science division.
In the Hobbies & Crafts division there are prizes for the best model made from scratch, the best model made from a kit, the best submission in the "Bathroom Boutique" category (that would be toilet roll cover, plunger disguiser, towel holder and so on), the best craft article made with a rooster theme, the best ornamental bird house, the best piece of hair jewelry, the best decorated egg, the best doorstop, the best item made with potpourri, the best decorated lampshade, the best item constructed from duct tape (this apron won Second prize) . . .
You get the idea. One hundred and four classes in all, and this division doesn't even include needlework, spinning and weaving, photography, painting, flower arranging, and wine making.
But even better still: if you find yourself with no creative talent of any kind, don't despair. You too, can join in the fun and maybe even be a winner in this class.
That's my kind of fair. But I've noticed there's one significant omission.
There's no hat-decorating.