Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 133 - Contemplating Glads

Today I was able to spend some time selecting my Gladiolus varieties.  Notice I said selecting - I haven't actually put the order in yet.  My picks usually come from growers on the North American Gladiolus Council website:

There are plenty of stores and regular garden catalogs that carry glad corms but you won't find the variety like you can from an actual grower.  If you are lucky enough to know a grower close to you ask them where they purchase their supplies or better yet see if they sell corms.

The plan for glads is about 200 corms with staggered plantings (based on the maturity date of the variety).  From this 200 I expect to have maybe 20 for exhibit.  Although that estimate may not be conservative enough - that's only if we don't experience a major storm with gale force winds, insect infestations (especially those darn root worm beetles - grr) and well any other act of God.  The best part - as I mentioned yesterday - is all those flowers that don't make it to exhibition will look beautiful in my home!

There are some very competitive families in the Glad Show at the Iowa State Fair.  But never let that stop you!  I have learned a lot from many them and they are very quick to encourage new exhibitors.  Just remember - glads have some tricky classification numbers dealing with size and color so do your homework before showing up.  People are usually happy to help but during set-up it can be a little crazy and everyone is busy so be prepared.  My tip: when I buy corms I buy from a source that pre-lists what classifications the varieties will most likely fall into - then I have a better idea.  Also, always make sure you know the variety (that they are labeled) and keep them labeled in the garden (or draw up a map so you know what was planted where).

Do I have a chance up against this competition?  Not usually :) - but you know what; that one class that I may win is the sweetest little victory.  Besides you never know when you may be the one to have "the perfect" specimen on any given day.  Plus, if you have never exhibited flowers before you can actually exhibit in a "beginner's class" where you don't have to compete the first year against the big competitors.  This is a great place to start and learn!

So, wondering about how I can figure this out without a fair premium book (listing of classes and categories - basically your planner)?  Well, I use last years.  Yes, there will be some changes but I can do a pretty general workup right now.  For areas I have never exhibited in I look at the Iowa State Fair's press releases from last year as a starting point.  Wondering when "spring" is for them to be listed on-line?  Well, a little birdie told me to expect them mid to late April!  So excited, it will be like Christmas (OK, Christmas for a professional organizer or highly organized professional?) --  Woohoo!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 134

Today found me caught up with other things so did not do a lot of Iowa State Fair planning.  Although, I did clean up my sewing room a bit to start finishing up some quilts I have been working on.

So, thought I would share a bit about how I became involved with exhibiting.  I must admit I am a very competitive person.  Exhibiting at the Iowa State Fair (ISF) provides me with a challenge along with being a great creative outlet for my competitiveness.  When I was in 4H I did have a number of exhibits that went to the ISF.  The most memorable being a part of the fashion revue with one of my sewn outfits.  That was fun and quite a confidence booster.

My grandmother used to show livestock at the National Cattle Congress and other large shows.  My dad had always wanted to exhibit at the Iowa State Fair but never was able to.  So, while in FFA my goal was to exhibit dairy cattle at the ISF.  I raised a dairy calf through the Iowa Jersey Cattle Club.  I loved it!  My husband still gives me a bad time about my dairy whites and walking backwards (since he was a beef steer kind of guy).  If you have no idea what that last line meant you'll have to take in a dairy show at this year's fair.

When my husband and I married a friend of ours encouraged me to try exhibiting flowers.  I can only ever hope to be considered average in this pursuit but who doesn't love extra flowers around the house?  It is very addictive and only takes one ribbon to get you thinking about how to improve, what to grow, a new recipe your dying to try for the next year's fair.  From flowers I moved on to baked goods and now my challenge continues into textiles.  I guess in a way I am coming full circle and going back to those 4H days.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 135

Welcome to my challenge!  You may be asking "Why is she starting today?"  Yes, I realize that my challenge is 100 entries in 100 days but I need some planning days to get started.  So, the first 30 some days will be planning, figuring out what I want to take, how to accomplish completing the entry, planting the garden and flowers, sewing, etc.  My plan is to come up with a list that I will post so I can begin checking off entries as I get started in May.  Also, although there are officially 135 days until the Iowa State Fair you have to take into account that many entries (especially Foods and Textiles) actually are due earlier than the fair's official start date.

My first tip for anyone planning to exhibit (this comes from some experience and my detail oriented - or perfectionist/anal - nature): always read the entry guidelines carefully and follow them exactly as stated!  The fair superintendents put a lot of time into making sure they get the details right - it is the exhibitor's responsibility to read and follow instructions.  That said - if something doesn't make sense call or contact the person listed in the entry booklet.  I have never had a negative experience trying to get clarification. 

Please realize that this journey is my own personal challenge - I know there are exhibitors who take 100 entries and more.  I just want to see if I can accomplish my goal and spread into areas new to me.  I have exhibited in food, floriculture and horticulture in past years.  This year I am going to be a newbie in textiles.  So, I hope to provide some insight into being a new exhibitor in an area as well as providing some tips I've learned along the way.  Some relating directly to a certain class or department and some that carry across all areas.

I hope that you will follow along my journey with me.  Share my joys and triumphs along with my disasters and disappointments.  Trust me my cats and chickens have enjoyed many a failed cake or yeast bread throughout the years and I am sure this year will be no different.  If you have never exhibited before because you think you have nothing to offer or you find it intimidating let me tell you I am just an average gal and if I can do it you can too!  Start small, find an area you love and bring an entry!  It's fun, it's rewarding, it challenges you and most importantly you will learn a lot not just about cooking or baking or growing flowers or veggies but about yourself and I can guarantee you'll make new friends along the way!