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.

Something better to do

As I have the last few years, I wanted to take time out and encourage people to follow the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s lead and celebrate Human Achievement Hour later tonight, from 8:30 to 9:30. As Christine Hall of CEI notes, Human Achievement Hour is “an annual celebration of individual freedom and appreciation of the achievements and innovations that people have used to improve their lives throughout history. ” We should “enjoy the benefits of capitalism and human innovation,” she added.

It’s unfortunate that the timing of particular events didn’t lend itself to a fairly proper local celebration of Human Achievement Hour, but that report will have to wait until next week I suppose. Petting Hendrix cranking out tunes with bright lights and several hundred watts of amplification seemed a fitting way to celebrate the time period since they were the ones on stage at that time, but alas that all happened last week. However, I’m sure a number of local venues are hosting live music tonight and that will do just fine just so long as it’s not unplugged acoustic.

In fact, it just so happened that I did a bang-up job of celebrating this four years ago, before I even knew about Human Achievement Hour. That celebration didn’t come along until 2009, when I noted the event’s first rendition. I also made mention of this in 2010 and last year when I rolled it into a Weekend of local rock post. The point is, we live in a society which depends on those things we have created to make our lives better, and sitting in the dark to celebrate Earth Hour – which just happens to coincide – believing it makes a difference only places a bold “S” on your forehead, meaning “sucker.”

Do I believe we should strive for energy efficiency? Absolutely, when it makes sense to do so based on a solid cost vs. benefit analysis. (I liked to use a payback period of five years or less in mine.) Problem is the same people who believe we should sit in the dark for an hour would eventually love to make us do so by fiat, or else creating the conditions where we will be forced into such a situation.

Unlike previous years, it does not appear that Maryland state government will participate; however, the National Cathedral in Washington and National Aquarium in Baltimore will participate. To be honest, the National Aquarium will be more of a symbolic effort because I can guarantee you the aquatic life they’re supporting needs some power to maintain their respective environments. If they completely went black you’d have a lot of dead fish. (They are also closed to the public during that time frame anyway so it’s not like they’re losing business.)

And that’s the rub. There are people and entities who know they can do Earth Hour to look politically correct yet not pay for it in the long run. Notice as well this falls on the weekend, when many are home enjoying their lifestyle. This wouldn’t fly if they tried it on a weekday evening when kids are doing homework or parents are running late-evening errands. Saturday is that day many people relax, perhaps by visiting the National Aquarium.

In particular, I’m sure their staff has probably fallen for this global climate change garbage hook, line, and sinker. They forget that it’s progress and abundant, reasonably-priced energy created from fossil fuels which aids in making the lifestyle where people can afford to pony up $25 to $30 to visit. Have you ever wondered why there’s not such a facility in places like Rwanda or Bangladesh? It’s because most people in those wretched places are worrying about where their next meal will come from and can only dream of having disposable income to spend.

And it’s in the vein of knowing we live in the greatest society the planet has ever known that we celebrate Human Achievement Hour. I’m not sure just what I’ll be doing, but I doubt that it will involve sitting in the dark being environmentally correct.