Wicomico County Fair 2018 in pictures and text (part 1)

I don’t think I’ve spent this much time at the Wicomico County Fair in, well, ever. Once I get rolling, all the photos will get their own caption.

But the original reason I showed up was to see how my photos did in competition.

If you look closely, one of my winning photos is next to the large yellowish Best of Show, which was first in the category (mine was second.) Another is on the top left of the right-hand screen.
This is one of my winners I really liked, one that was computer-modified with a filter. The shot was taken at Luray Caverns in Virginia when we were there earlier this year.

I got four second-place photos, which is pretty decent for an amateur like me. Three of them were taken on the same vacation.

But I wasn’t the only one looking for a ribbon, or more. Hundreds and hundreds of exhibits of all sorts filled the Carriage House.

The local 4-H clubs were taking a lot of space this year.
Others in both adult and junior categories exhibited the best of agriculture and arts.
The prizes for those considered Best of Show.
This helps pay for the few dollars I’ll receive for having prize-winning entries.

But exhibits and judging weren’t just reserved for the Carriage House. There were an assortment of barnyard animals on display at the fair as well.

I’m not sure what constitutes a prize-winning cow, but these three were seeking that distinction.
My wife likes goats, so hopefully she saw this one.
Beyond whether this one has plenty of white meat or dark meat, it’s a striking bird.

Animals who were simply being judged on their cuteness factor to the young set were part of the petting zoo.

The kids had a petting zoo, which was probably a good idea with the animals on exhibit being judged.

And then you have another sort of exhibit and judging in one of my favorite sections of the event: Friday evening’s car show.

This car is the same age as me (a 1964 Ford Country Sedan station wagon) but probably in much better shape. I seem to recall my aunt and uncle had a slightly later version of this Ford product.

I could have added several more photos of old cars I liked, but I decided to be nice and spare you.

Friday also featured another sort of competition: the Maryland High School Rodeo. Yes, there is such a thing, and the Wicomico County Fair was the opener to its 2018-19 season.

This young flag-bearer got the Maryland High School Rodeo season underway.

I didn’t sit through all of the events, but there was plenty of barrel racing, roping, and even bull riding on the Friday night docket.

Adjacent to the rodeo going on was the shady main lane of the Fair.

They were still painting the barrels when I first arrived Friday afternoon. But this wasn’t the main entrance anymore, as I’ll explain in a bit.
A few businesses (and political candidates) had the good fortune to be in the shade most of the weekend.

There were also other regular staples of the WCF I ran across, too.

The Phillips Wharf Environmental Center always brings this setup to the fair for the kids to check out.
This was inside the Maryland Department of Agriculture mobile exhibit. Besides the information kids could learn, adults probably most enjoyed the very comfortable air conditioning.

I thought I had a picture of this mobile exhibit from the outside as well as the Bookmobile, but I guess not. Funny thing about the Maryland Department of Agriculture mobile exhibit: there are actually two such vehicles now. We got the newer one with the better air conditioning, Montgomery County got the older one this weekend. Serves ’em right.

But they try to hit as many fairs, festivals, etc. as they can. Makes sense as agriculture is the number 1 Maryland industry. (And here I thought it was dependence on the federal government. Nope, saving politics for part 2.)

This group hopes to keep it number one.

Another group I didn’t know existed. They had a skid steer competition over the weekend.

I was happy to see these folks do better, too. Explanation in moments.

Despite what you may see in this picture, which I actually took on Sunday, this train did a lot better business than it did last year in a different location.

I’m going to close out part 1 by giving my kudos to the WCF for the way it was set up. They finally figured out that most of us park at the parking lot by the Little League field so the county built a small footbridge over the swale next to that lot. Most people would thus come in by the Carriage House and work their way up toward the main part of the Fair. Not only did it help the train operators out, I thought it was a better flow than parking people in the lot off Old Ocean City Road because it allowed them to close Blue Ribbon Drive and put it to use, as I’ll illustrate to lead off part 2.

Wicomico Farm and Home Show 2014 in pictures and text

It’s not a whole lot, but it is ours. Over the weekend another Wicomico Farm and Home Show – the 78th annual – was put in the books. As has been the case the last several years, I was there to help with the Republican table.

Of course, the indispensable part of the program was sitting at the table when I took that shot. Blan Harcum was one of many volunteers who helped out, though, so thanks to Helen, Marc, Jim, Woody, Leonard, Ann, and anyone else who spent some time there.

Some of the candidates stopped by over the weekend as well. Thursday afternoon brought two County Council members and a third who wants to join that body.

Marc Kilmer (left) is running to represent District 2 on County Council, and as he noted it’s the most rural district of the five. Arguably, Joe Holloway (right) represents the second-most rural district in District 5, while Bob Culver (center) is currently an at-large member who is now trying for County Executive. His watermelons were a hit.

I didn’t stay too long Thursday; my main job was to get set up and check on the photos we entered. (More on that in a bit.)

So when I came back Saturday, I wanted to see what else was going on around the WHFS, beginning with the exhibit hall.

It was dominated by one feature, which returned from last year.

The National Aquarium brought back its inflatable whale, along with a table and accompanying signage.

In a similar vein but parked outside was the Phillips Wharf Environmental Center bus.

But the main purpose of the show was to highlight the farms and crafts of Wicomico County. On the farm side, there were all sorts of barnyard animals, such as these.

Just outside there, nervous contestants waited as their animals were judged. I think these guys were done, though.

On the inside of the exhibit hall, there were crafts and hobbies galore. I can see why this quilt won, although the best in show was very nice too.

Fortunately, it wasn’t just these attractions. The kids had their own little tractor pull, although there wasn’t a version for the big kids this year like there was last time.

Not that they didn’t have tractors around.

I’m sure the old ones are priceless to the owners, but I was floored to find out a similar tractor to the one I pictured (a Case/IH model as opposed to a John Deere) can run well north of $35,000.

As they did last year, there was a car show – one with its share of trucks, naturally.

But the most interesting truck to me was this – one of the two military-themed trucks in the show.

The directional sign is supposed to resemble the one from the old TV show M*A*S*H, and it indeed includes Toledo in honor of Corporal Max Klinger. Actor Jamie Farr is a Toledo native.

This was a nice touch as well.

There was plenty of action in the horse pen, with an exhibition of Cowboy Mounted Shooting.

CMS is supposedly a fast-growing sport, with seven to ten new people signing up daily. It combines the agility of barrel racing with the accuracy of shooting – competitors try to shoot each of ten balloons on a preset course, with time penalties for missing a balloon or knocking a post over. Among the participants in this exhibition was the reigning Ohio state champion, who’s from Delaware but recently won the title in a competition in Wooster, Ohio. (By the way, the bullets are modified theatrical blanks.)

It would be interesting to see if they could get a real, sanctioned competition here next year. Unfortunately, the organizers really didn’t have much in the way of activities during the late afternoon hours leading up to the awards.

One of those awards came right back to my household, as my fiance Kim won Best of Show in black-and-white photography. And if you recall that old tractor I pictured above, my photo of the slightly-less restored version from last year won me a second place ribbon in its category. (Yes, I took it at the 2013 WFHS but didn’t use it in the post.) Not bad for a rookie who only entered three photos – although Kim and her daughter Kassie both had more first place ribbons than I had photos.

For next year, I’m sure the Wicomico GOP will have a presence, although it will be more muted after the 2014 election. If the creek don’t rise I’ll have some pictures and hopefully they’ll attract more events. The 2016 rendition will be the 80th annual so it’s time to build momentum.

2013 Wicomico Farm and Home Show in pictures and text

Most counties have a traditional county fair, but ours does it a little differently as they bill it the Farm and Home Show. But it’s on the 77th annual rendition, and as always they promised a whale of a time.

Actually, this 70′ long whale replica came from the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Not to be outdone in the aquatic wars, the Phillips Wharf Environmental Center brought out their Fishmobile.

Somewhat more on the exotic side were these alpacas, which are raised locally for their wool. They are not camera-shy, either.

Yet while all three had their patrons, the WFHS still had its bread and butter of more mainstream, rural attractions, like this mechanical bull.

This was accompanied by a somewhat obnoxious huckster who probably made his money off the photos he was selling for $5 a pop. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose.

But much more work went into the exhibits which were spread throughout the Farm and Home Show’s exhibit hall and show areas outside. Whether it was produce…

…or livestock…

…or horsemanship…

…dozens of youth and adult participants competed for the elusive blue ribbons and best of show designations. And it wasn’t just in those categories – photography holds a special place in my heart as well.

You likely can’t see it on the left, but one of my fiance Kim’s pictures is there with a blue ribbon on it, denoting it won its subcategory. On the right is one of her daughter’s photos, with not just a blue ribbon for subcategory but a purple one denoting “Best of Show” out of the entire junior division.

I also happen to know the woman who swept the adult “Best of Show” divisions, and it was no surprise Francie Davis won those because she’s won at the Delaware State Fair before. I’ve seen her work there and she’s quite good.

Yet there were other competitions held at the Farm and Home Show. Over the course of Saturday afternoon the antique tractor pull pitted man and machine against weight and mean old Mr. Gravity.

If you liked smoky and noisy, that was the event for you. And the kids even got to join in the fun – with pedal power, of course.

This big kid likes to see cars which were around when he was a little one – yes, I am a sucker for a car show.

This old Ford Fairlane was fascinating with its retractable hardtop. Not sure I’d be a big fan of what would then be a trunkless car, which is probably why the concept never caught on.

But I do like the more exotic models – not necessarily the 1950s-era Bentley someone brought, but this old Nash Rambler.

I’m of an age where I remember a dashboard full of doodads like this one.

And there’s other interesting detail as well. How did we survive with these bumpers?

I’d be curious to know where this was in Millsboro. This dealership has probably been out of existence for forty years or more, but lives on with the nameplate.

There were also people hawking their wares. One of the more interesting people I ran across was E. Dee Monnen, who is an author and one-time president of our Wicomico County Republican Club. So what does she mainly write on? Old-time baseball.

As I found out, her interest in the sport came from her grandfather. He was a contemporary of the legendary Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson and was, in fact, his first mound opponent, she claimed.

Of course, I was there to handle the Republican table at the event. Muir Boda took my pic there, with longtime volunteer Bob Miller on the far left (a rarity.)

Apparently, though, I missed out on many of the politicians who dropped in. While I saw County Council members Joe Holloway and Bob Culver in my rounds today, apparently Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Delegate candidate Mary Beth Carozza, and Delegate Charles Otto were supporters of the auction they held Friday night and Delegate Ron George dropped by yesterday to say hello and drop off some “Ron George for Governor” yard signs (which, by the way, are in my possession at the moment.)

I also saw this worst-kept secret made official.

Looks like Jim Mathias has a fight on his hands.

But as another Wicomico Farm and Home Show went into the books, one has to ponder if it’s going the way of these tractors: old and functional, but symbols of another time passed by.

I saw quite a few kids there, but many more gray hairs. If the WFHS is to survive, I think it needs to find some more items to cater to a younger crowd. It’s most likely the Wicomico GOP will remain there as supporters, but they truly need to figure out a way to increase attendance. There’s no admission fee so no one really counts the patrons, but if there were 500 people on the grounds at any one time (including workers and help) I would be surprised.

Maybe it’s time for a fresh approach. If antique tractors and cars can be made into works of art, so can this event.

Update: Speaking of antique tractors, I wanted to point out one more thing and it actually works into the theme with which I concluded.

I don’t know the woman personally, but being in the farming environment I’m sure Katie Howard has earned every one of her gray hairs. Yet that didn’t stop her from getting off the sidelines and trying her first “hook” as a tractor puller.

She didn’t win her class, but she pulled it a respectable distance – more than some of the others pulled. A little more speed and she would have done even better; of course, that knowledge comes from experience and she could be better next time around.

It’s that combination of experience and willingness to try something new which often leads to success, and it’s a lesson for the WHFS to learn for the 78th rendition next year.