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I was so excited, you’d think I had won the lottery. Even though the prize paid only $8, the blue ribbon was priceless! I’m talking about the Erie County Fair and the painting I submitted for competition last year. My second entry had earned an honorable mention. Whoopee!

Considering this was the first time I entered, you have to understand my excitement. I’ve never had any professional training. I learned by watching the lady paint on television many years ago and by trial and error.

I’m also a Gemini and my horoscope says I’m a creative person, so who am I to question the heavens? When you come to think of it, don’t we all have a little creativity in us? When you pick a color to paint a room, or buy an accessory for your home, aren’t you being creative?

Year after year, we would go to the fair and I’d admire the work presented by the 4-H Club members. What wonderful talent from our young people. The items that are sewn, knitted or crocheted are of store quality. The table settings are so beautiful it makes you hope for a dinner invitation. And then there is the photograph exhibit. Young or old, some people have quite an eye for catching just the right moment with their cameras. The flower garden displays are so beautiful they could appear in Better Homes and Gardens.

Year after year, I’d admire these things until finally I admitted to myself that I, too, could submit an entry. I, too, could not only be part of a competition, but actually be a part of this fair.

The Erie County Fair is something our family has always looked forward to. When our children were younger, the parade was a priority because both of them were in the high school marching band and proudly participated in the Veterans Parade. The excitement from the crowd in the grandstand as the veterans marched by was contagious. Everyone stood and applauded and showed respect for these men and women. My husband, Fred, is a Vietnam vet, adding to our own family pride.

After the parade, we would head to the barns. I would squeal with delight at the thought of seeing those small pink bundles. Mamma pig and her many piglets always draw a crowd. So do the baby chicks struggling out of their shells and wobbling as they try out their legs for the first time.

As we head for the midway, I always look forward to pitching a ball into a small glass jar in hopes of winning a goldfish. I have to say, I’m pretty good at this. I probably beat the odds by winning seven goldfish with my bucket of balls. I don’t want the fish – I just like to play. I give the fish to the children standing nearby. After all, their parents have already spent a small fortune trying to win one, but haven’t got the knack for it the way I do.

All this fun can make you hungry and there is no shortage of food here. It is the one time of year when eating all the fried food your stomach can handle is acceptable.

This year, I am entering an afghan. I think it is of ribbon quality, but we will just have to see what the judges think. It’s not the prize. It’s the participation that counts and the excitement of seeing your work on display. I recommend you look to your creative side and consider joining me. I welcome the competition!