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County Fair Advice Needed From Candle Makers

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KristaY

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I'm the Open Exhibit Director for our county fair. In the adult hobbies and crafts section we have a classification that just says "Candles". A person from the community contacted me and asked if that area can be expanded to include the types of wax, shape, size, sculptured, etc. She's a very new, amateur candle maker and I haven't made candles since Girl Scouts. So for those of you that make candles, what do you think would be good classifications? I'm not sure what's in fashion for candle making so I'm hesitant to add things that aren't necessary or overlook something that's going crazy.

I'd appreciate any advice!
 

dixiedragon

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Not a candle maker - but my question is, do you have enough participants to warrant those divisions? Is this a case of a super-excited newbie, rather than a reflection of what's actually being offered?

I have for years visited the Wilson County Fair in Tennessee and they have a very extensive section of crafts, etc, and I saw no candles.
 

Dorymae

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I think Dixie boiled it down well. Take a look back a few years and see how many candle entries you had in the past. Is it necessary to have several categories? If you only had say 10 competitors how much would you want to break up the catagory? Take a look at what was entered. Where there different types of waxes or where the entries broken more down the lines of tapers, columns, and tea lights? This should give you a better picture of whether it is necessary and also which categories you may want to enact.

Congratulations on the position, I hope you have a lot of fun with it!
 

KristaY

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Thanks for the input, Dixie and Dory! Unfortunately it's not too easy to go back to previous years. We changed software (or updated) and the previous data was deleted. We only have hard copy that's stored in boxes (thrown in actually) somewhere on the property, lol. The previous superintendent for that dept is no longer doing it so I can't even jog her memory. Maybe I'll choose just a couple of things to divide into "lots". So the class would be "candles" then they enter under lots of "soy candles, any shape", "gel candles, any shape", etc. Sometimes this will encourage the creative juices to flow. I guess we'll find out!
 

DeeAnna

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Gosh, I looked at the Iowa State Fair categories, and they don't even have a specific Candles section -- I think you'd have to enter a candle in the "other-miscellaneous" category. I do know the Iowa Beekeepers demo how to make dipped beeswax candles, but that's not a judged category. Here's a link to what I'm looking at for the Iowa fair: http://www.iowastatefair.org/upl/downloads/competition/premium-books/creative-arts-crafts-23.pdf

It's too bad you don't have any guidance about what the competition was in earlier years. Maybe some of the local 4H leaders might know more? Even if the category is in the open categories and not the 4H categories, the 4H leaders are often pretty savvy about what's going on at the fair and might be able to give you some feedback. If there's not a lot of competition, having more than one category within Candles might not be helpful.
 

dixiedragon

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How does the whole judging process work? My friend's niece (she's 16 or so now) has been entering various things for years. Apparently tomato sauce is judged by color and texture inside the jar - they don't taste it, or even open the jar and smell! With the number of sauces, pies, fruits, cakes, cookies, canned goods, etc, it would be impossible to taste every one.
 

KristaY

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Gosh, I looked at the Iowa State Fair categories, and they don't even have a specific Candles section -- I think you'd have to enter a candle in the "other-miscellaneous" category. I do know the Iowa Beekeepers demo how to make dipped beeswax candles, but that's not a judged category. Here's a link to what I'm looking at for the Iowa fair: http://www.iowastatefair.org/upl/downloads/competition/premium-books/creative-arts-crafts-23.pdf

It's too bad you don't have any guidance about what the competition was in earlier years. Maybe some of the local 4H leaders might know more? Even if the category is in the open categories and not the 4H categories, the 4H leaders are often pretty savvy about what's going on at the fair and might be able to give you some feedback. If there's not a lot of competition, having more than one category within Candles might not be helpful.
Looking in the 4H classes is brilliant, DeeAnna! I hadn't thought to check there. You're sure right too - those leaders are really on top of things. Plus, it's nice to have very similar classes in both because the 4H kids eventually grow up then begin entering in the open divisions. Then they have kids who enter and so on.... I'm off to check the fair book for their entry classes.:p

How does the whole judging process work? My friend's niece (she's 16 or so now) has been entering various things for years. Apparently tomato sauce is judged by color and texture inside the jar - they don't taste it, or even open the jar and smell! With the number of sauces, pies, fruits, cakes, cookies, canned goods, etc, it would be impossible to taste every one.
At our fair the canned goods and culinary arts are separate divisions. In culinary ALL items are tasted then judged for taste, texture, presentation, etc. Oops, not all. We don't make the judges taste all the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and "pudding surprise" done by the under 5 y/o group. :smile: This process takes about 6 hours with 4-6 judges. Makes for a VERY long day because the items are brought in the day they are judged. So we start taking in entries at 7 am, end at noon, judging from 1-7 pm, then get them displayed because the fair opens the next morning. We're usually completely finished by about 10 pm. In the canning section many items are tasted but a lot are not. Mostly this is for safety sake of the item entered because we don't have enough large refrigerators to keep them once they're opened. Most fruits and vegetables aren't tasted because a string bean is just a string bean so we all know how those should taste. Instead they're judged on the color of the string bean, the uniformity of them and the height of the water. Also, all tops are pushed to make sure they were sealed properly. No meats are opened, just visually judged. Most jams and jellys are tasted. Things that are always opened and tasted are pickles, salsas, marinades, etc. We also get a lot of people that home brew wine, beer & moonshine. Those are always tasted!
 

nsmar4211

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I agree with "see how many entries there are" before breaking it down into categories. Put a note in the book, "We reserve the right to further categorize based on the number of entries". That way, if you get 15 of one type and 12 of another you can just split the category. Our county fair that I used to exhibit in (not candles!) barely had any candles or soap...heck I don't even think they have a seperate category for them! (edit: Nope, just miscellaneous) 10 different exhibitors in a category , other than quilts and photography would be a rarity here :).

Edit: The exact wording our book uses: "Classes for judging may be added as needed"
 
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