I could see the open, double doors ahead of me through the thick line of mostly seniors. One at a time people entered, carrying one of a kind creations, then they came out with small stubs of paper. My stomach is tickled with nerves. I have a tight, sweaty grasp on my garment bag. What if they don't take it? This is my first time entering. I'm standing in line with a bunch of experienced crafters and feeling apprehensive about my own skills. I look around and notice a needlepoint picture close by. It's small frame surrounds tiny, little animals playing sports. Not just cats or dogs but a teeny shamu playing volleyball on the beach with all of his Sea World friends. The busy scene is perfectly depicted with each little cross- stitch X. Some women clutch neatly folded quilts out in front of themselves for all to see. Many of the contestants in line lean heavily on walkers and canes while loyal partners stand close by holding boxes and bags. I can't help but to compare the things I'm seeing with my purposely concealed quilted jacket. In front of me I can see a petite, short haired woman carrying a small quilt made from fabrics with a coffee theme. The quilt is mainly black and white with some red accents. I'm close enough to see the tiny, precise stitches and carefully finished, binded edges. This gets me doubting my own workmanship, I know that the quilting on my jacket is not perfect. I can see the days entries piled high on tables as I approach the front of the line. Hats, vests, aprons, gloves, scarves and all other things made of fabric and thread are stacked on large, folding tables. This is my last chance to back out or the colorful jacket will be tossed on top of the heap. This is my first try at making a jacket. I decided to use a quilting method called paper- piecing and make a picture on the back. The scene on the back of the jacket depicts a sunset over mountains and fields. Orange and yellow fabrics for the sun and it's rays and purple and green for the fields. The jacket also has blue fabric for the sky and printed fabrics cut into mountainous shapes. Altogether this jacket has a rainbow of colors. I am entering the San Diego County Fair Home and Hobby contest after an encouraging nudge from my grandma. She gave me a flyer with the information and prodded me to give it a try. Entering the contest is a sure way to impress grandparents, but winning a ribbon would be even better. In the spirit of competition and hoping for bragging rights I decided to enter my sunset themed jacket. Now it's my turn in line, no going back. I give my name and jacket to the cheery volunteer. Then leave the building with a free ticket and a stub of paper reminding us to pick up our entries after the fair. I feel a mixture of relief and grief. I'm excited about seeing my artwork displayed at the fair and nervous about being judged. The familiar sight of Don Diego welcomes us to the fairgrounds. We join the crowd of people being herded through the main gates. Then onto the midway with the aroma of grilling corn and hot, fried funnel cakes wafting up our nostrils. First head over to the home and hobby building to satisfy my curiosity. Do I get to brag to my grandparents about my first try win? Or start planning for next year. My eyes quickly darted around the room when we walked into the building. Large panels of glass seperate us from the neatly crowded displays. I carefully comb over each item behind the glass, drawn to everything colorful. As I scan over many pieces of home spun stitchery adorned with blue ribbons, I anticipate the disappointment of going home empty handed. I'm resigned to the idea that just seeing my handiwork here is an honor. Then I see it, the bright, blue sky fabric on the shoulder of my jacket. It's displayed on a dress form manequin, facing us. Not so good for seeing the sunset picture on the back, but a perfect view of the blue ribbon attached to the front.

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MsGrant Oct. 23, 2010 @ 2:44 p.m.

That's terrific, Nichole!! I was just sharing a story with someone of how years ago I entered a beer I had brewed in the Del Mar Fair homebrew contest. It was when homebrewing was all the rage - the mid-nineties. I decided I would try my hand at it, so I made a wheat beer. Everyone who tried it said I should enter it in the contest - a bunch of my guy friends were doing it, too, so I thought, eh, what the heck. I won second place overall out of over 50 entries, and third in the speciality beer (wheat) contest!! My guy friends were a little ticked-off, though :) Sometimes we surprise ourselves. Thanks for sharing this great story.


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