09/28/12 — Getting the fair's entries in line

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Getting the fair's entries in line

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 28, 2012 1:46 PM

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Rachel Rawls, right, speaks with Jewel Grantham while checking flowers into the floral department at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair. Mrs. Rawls is one the directors of the flower show.

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Doris Herring, a member of Wayne County Extension and Community Association, Fine Points, and Club Extension and Community Association liaison smiles while carrying a chair and a mounted duck inside an exhibit halls at fair.

A woman sets an unusual-looking plant down in front of Rachel Rawls. Intrigued by the odd-looking specimen, Mrs. Rawls begins examining it from all sides. She rubs one of the leaves, which releases a foul odor, one Mrs. Rawls won't be able to wash off her hands for several hours.

It's all in a day's work for the flower show director at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair.

Mrs. Rawls has seen many unusual plants and flower arrangements during her 20 years as flower show director.

"People don't know what they've got," she said.

Like the woman with the pretty plant with stinky leaves.

"She said she didn't know what it was," Mrs. Rawls said. "I didn't know what it was either. I asked the horticulture agent, and she didn't know what it was either. It actually had such a bad smell that it almost turned my stomach. The flower was pretty with a little pink and a little green in it. But it was dull looking."

The woman told Mrs. Rawls that the plant had come up in her yard and she decided to keep it.

"It is our mystery plant for this year," Mrs. Rawls said.

Mrs. Rawls is just one of the many division directors at the fair each year. Their job is to take entries and to make sure everything runs smoothly, and it begins even before the fair starts and doesn't end until the fair is over for another year.

Mrs. Rawls began the volunteer job as flower show director when she was asked by Extension and Community Association liaison Doris Herring.

"She said they needed help at the fair and she knew I was a flower show judge," Mrs. Rawls said. "Next thing I knew, I was in. Now I can't get out. But I've not been trying to get out. I think the fair gets into your blood and you can't get rid of it."

Mrs. Rawls looks forward to seeing the unusual plants and pretty arrangements that are entered into the flower show each year. And she likes meeting the people who bring them -- some she remembers from past years and some who are new.

Like the man who's been entering arrangements for the past five years or so.

"You don't find too many men doing that," Mrs. Rawls said. "He's a farmer and raises hogs or chickens or something like that. He's got a strong hand and makes his arrangements big. He said he has a passion for it."

Trellis Phillips is one of the crafts division directors, a volunteer position she has held for the past three years.

"I've always loved the fair, so when they asked me to help out, I said yes," she said. "I look forward to it each year."

Her job is to arrange the craft entries on shelves as they come in. She has to put like entries in the same area to be judged later. And even though she loves what she does, it does take a lot out of her. She took entries Wednesday from noon to 8 p.m. then turned around and did the same thing Thursday from noon to 4 p.m.

But it's all worth it when she sees all of the creative craft items people bring in.

"We get gorgeous wreaths every year," Mrs. Phlllips said. "We also get lots of handmade baskets. People do excellent work. I don't know how judges make a choice."

That's one of the aspects of her position as needlework and Christmas tree director that Louise Faison likes.

One of the more unusual items she has seen entered in the needlework division this year was an old-fashioned black stove made with canvas and black thread, like the tissue boxes that everyone makes. It even had a stove pipe.

"It's amazing the ideas people come up with," Mrs. Faison said.

She got involved with the needlework division 10 years ago when the extension agent asked for her help at the county fair.

This was her first year as Christmas tree director. In that capacity, Mrs. Faison got organizations to decorate five full-sized Christmas trees. When the judges made their decision on the winners, it was Mrs. Faison's responsibility to put the ribbons on the trees and record the winners in the fair book.

She said it's the fair directors who keep things organized and running smoothly.

And that's just what the ECA liaison Doris Herring does.

She has been in charge of getting judges for many of the division competitions for many years. That's about 20 judges each year.

"It's not hard to get judges," she said. "I also take them out to eat each year to say thank you. And I help wherever I can at the fair."

Mrs. Herring said she feels personally responsible for anything that happens in the building that houses the many displays and competitions each year.

"One year a girl was entering items and she was down on the floor filling out the book," Mrs. Herring said. "That just didn't look right. I don't let things like that happen. It's my job to see that everything runs OK."

And she does just that, with the help of the other fair directors.