The County Fair Comes Back, and It’s a Winner
The envelope, please. And the winner of the Favorite Vegetable of the 2022 Albemarle County Fairgoers is … carrots!
Followed by broccoli and tomatoes, with only three votes separating the top and third-place winners. The least favorite vegetable: okra.
The Favorite Vegetable Competition was a part of the Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables Everyday display, which taught the nutritional value of these foods and their importance in a healthy diet. It was one of several fun and educational exhibits presented by the Piedmont Master Gardeners at this year’s County Fair, held August 4-6 at James Monroe’s Highland in Charlottesville.
Other popular displays included information on The Spotted Lanternfly, How to Make Your Own Compost, the Value of Soil Cover Crops, Planting Fall Vegetables, Seed Saving and Share Your Harvest, which explains how you can donate your extra produce to our local food pantries rather than letting the food go to waste.
Bringing Back Fond Memories
Children attending the fair enjoyed activity tables where they could color pictures of vegetables, make vegetable prints, assemble vegetable jigsaw puzzles, and sort vegetables by color. PMG volunteers were on hand to answer gardening questions and give away soil test kits. In addition to Charlottesville and Albemarle County residents, the fair drew visitors from Greene, Madison, Orange and Fluvanna Counties, and from as far away as North Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, Canada, even England. At least 300 people stopped by the exhibits and had conversations with Extension Master Gardener volunteers at our Help Desk.
Many of us have great childhood memories of our local fairs—the aroma of the funnel cakes, the bleating sounds of the animals, and perhaps the ribbon you received for that “oddball” vegetable you grew in your backyard. This year’s Albemarle County Fair—the first since 2019 due to COVID—provided the chance to relive some of those moments.
A Scene Alive with Color
The fair is a collaborative effort among the Fair Board, the Virginia Cooperative Extension office, and community organizations, whose volunteers helped coordinate the fair’s competitions and activities. For the volunteers, it was awesome to see new and returning families and children line up to submit their precious entries in the Agriculture and Home Arts competitions. In fact, this year’s fair exhibited more vegetables, preserved foods, beverages, baked goods, crafts, artworks, photographs and other submissions than in 2019, making the Agriculture and Home Arts Building vibrant with color. Many of the entries came from the gardens and kitchens of our own Piedmont Master Gardeners.
Comments overheard by our Help Desk volunteers included statements like, “This is the best part of the fair!” and “Wow, are these entries amazing!”. Kudos and a huge thank you to all who contributed your homegrown and homemade creations, and to the volunteers who contributed your time. We are fortunate to have many talented crafters and passionate gardeners in our community.
Make Plans to Take Part Next Year
The Albemarle County Fair typically occurs during the last week in July to the first week in August. We hope you will plan now to support the fair next year with your entries and attendance.
Prepared by Piedmont Master Gardeners Linda Blum, Fern Campbell and Gloria Gredler