Monday, July 29, 2013

Fair Enough, Part 2: Lessons Learned

This weekend, I submitted my matzah cover to the Iowa State Fair!
I put my blood, sweat, and tears into this (in one awful night, quite literally), and now I have the satisfaction of meeting this exciting new goal.  I am also glad that next year, I will know what to expect.  Here are some lessons that I learned that I hope will be of use to other crafters who are considering competing in their state fairs:

  1. Budget more time than you will think you need.  I was able to finish my matzah cover in about one month, but I would definitely start sooner on my state fair projects next time.  Maybe not 11 months in advance, but enough time that I won't have to rush.  I had to prioritize this project above other projects--including decorating fabric squares for a friendship quilt for the co-owner of Home Ec, who is leaving to go back to school.  I also felt rushed towards the end, which can result in mistakes.
  2. Pay attention to deadlines.  I had to go to Des Moines and submit my project in person because I missed the deadline to turn it in by mail.  My husband and I ended up making a day of it, going to an IMAX movie and shopping at the only Trader Joe's in the state.  That was pleasant, but not everybody can make the trip.  Some of my friends had planned on submitting items, but did not realize that the Fabric & Threads department (which covers yarncraft, needlework, sewing, and quilting) has a MUCH earlier deadline than the other competitions.  Find out early what the deadline for submissions is and put it in your calendar.
  3. Read the rules.  The rules (or premium book) say what condition your items should be in, how to attach the tag, and other specifics of preparing your project for submission.  It also lists every single division and class for which the fair accepts items.  As I was waiting to submit my matzah cover, I overheard the woman in charge talking to someone about how every year, people show up who have not only not filled out their tags--they haven't even looked at the rule book to figure out if their item fits in any particular class.  Entries can be disqualified if they are submitted to the incorrect class.  Don't let your hard work go to waste.  Reading the rule book is what inspired me to submit my matzah cover.  I figured it would be a breath of fresh air in a Christmas-dominated Embroidered Holiday Decorations class.  (Interestingly, there was a division that had both a Christmas Decoration class and a Non-Christmas Holiday Decoration class.)
  4. No crafter is an island.  In the midst of a competition, your initial instinct might be to work on your project in secret.  After all, you might be submitting in the same categories as people you know, and you certainly don't want to give them clues on what you are planning!  No--fight that instinct.  Work on your projects with friends.  Give them updates.  Ask them for advice.  If they are also working on state fair projects, do the same for them.  Before making the drive to Des Moines, I stopped off at Home Ec to use their iron to flatten the wrinkles out of my matzah cover.    After working on it during Saturday brunch for several weeks, the regulars were so curious to see it.  They loved it, and told me how beautiful it was and how they were so happy I got it done in time for the competition.  After we left, my husband told me how nice it was that everyone was so happy for the success of others.  Maybe in a few weeks, we can organize a group trip to the fair.  I may not earn any ribbons or prizes, but the compliments of friends make me feel like a winner.


  1. Your husband's insight is remarkable. Good to have his support in your crafting.

  2. It is beautiful! It doesn't show any blood, sweat, tears, or hurry to it! :)

  3. Next year, you, me, and ALL THE THINGS. My towels will be done, I'll maybe have a new picture, and... pillowcases? PILLOWCASES. BRING IT.

    I care much less for the ribbons than I do the reactions. I want to watch people looking at mine and I want them to laugh and laugh.

    1. I'd like to make this for the Counted Cross-Stitch division, "Verse or Motto" class: