While I was down in Tennessee visiting, I convinced my parents that we really needed to go see the opening events happening at the Smith County fair.
It's not every day you get to see a live mule judging, after all.
I also spent some time looking at the entries into the chicken competition.
Some of these birds were truly beautiful. But some of them were pretty average. My buff orpington is a little older now, but in her prime laying years, she looked as good or better than any of the entries I saw in that category. And her flock mates could have certainly been viable entries as well.
I tried to get the judge to talk to me about what he was looking for. What makes a good Barred Rock? Does he have the breed standards memorized for all the categories? He'd kind of pick the chickens up and give them a feel. He'd tuck them under his arm. He'd stand back and contemplate.
He was far too occupied to give me any time, however. He had a very serious job to do.
The category that got me most excited, though, was the Ham, Bacon & Jowl judging. It was drop-off day for the entries, and they were lining up as we went through in the morning. Mostly, these were country hams, salted and smoked. Different from the prosciuttos I make. But definitely gave me something to think about.
The judging wouldn't be til later in the week. But look at that pair of huge jowls on the end of the table.
There were other categories for homemade wine. For quilts. For jams, preserves, vegetables, flowers, photography, and more. There was a talent show, an antique tractor show, a turkey calling contest, and even a coon hunt the last evening. (I am so not making that up).
But it wasn't all serious stuff. There'd be rides and carnival games through the week, not to mention some great looking food.
And they don't forget about the kids in Smith County.
I present to you: a giant roll of hay turned into a pig.
I love you, Smith County, Tennessee.