July: it conjures up thoughts of fireworks, gardening, heat, vacations. All those things, sure — but around here, the overriding image of July is the county fair.
I was a 10-year 4-Her, and now my kids are heading that direction as well. The past weeks have been a whirlwind of collecting leaves, baking strawberry braids, researching this topic ‘n that for posters, sewing shirts, mod podging a little bit of everything … you get the picture.
All in hopes of a champion, or at least a blue ribbon. Recently, I looked through my own ribbons, now smelling a bit musty as they sit at the bottom of a box in the basement. Amidst all the purple, pink, and blue, what stands out are the few reds.
In 4-H, projects are basically given a blue (the best), a red (next best), or a white (uh-oh) according to their merit, in the judge’s eyes. Although results vary by fair, I’d say about 70% of projects usually get blue ribbons, maybe 25% get red, and you’ll see just a few whites in the mix (these often inspire gasps and scrutiny to see just what the problem was).
And as I looked over my ribbons, I realized something: the “red” projects are generally some of my memorable. To name a few:
- The elephant mobile I made in Childcare. Yes, the elephants had little black button eyes. Yes, I realized that this could be a choking hazard, AND THAT’S WHY I EMPHASIZED IN MY NOTEBOOK THAT I SEWED THEM ON ABOUT 20 TIMES TO AVOID THE RISK. Did the judge read that part? Guess not, because what I got was a red ribbon and a note about the buttons being a choking hazard.
- The one year I attempted Geology. Readers, I am ashamed to admit that I confused slate for shale and vice versa. The similarity between the two has been a source of confusion in my life many times since then, as I’m sure you can imagine.
- The year I wanted to sew a suit in clothing. Despite my mom’s dire warnings, I bought the pattern and insisted on sewing that blazer, even knowing that the judge would mercilessly hold up the two lapels against each other to see if they matched. I suppose they did not, for I got a red.
- My banana nut bread. We had already made it twice that morning, since the first one didn’t come out right. You’d think I would have gotten brownie points for that, but no. We had to run over to the neighbor’s to borrow a banana (no 24-hr stores back then), and the judge deemed the banana too large, as she said the bread was too moist. Ah, well.
So, while it would be great to be blue or purple all the time, perhaps the red memories are worth something.