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Gardening: Interstate fair entry deadline fast approaching

How many of you remember entering things in your county fair? Do you remember how proud you were when you won a blue ribbon or even better, a best in show?

Country fairs have been a part of the American summer tradition for nearly 160 years, back to the Civil War when they started as a way for the Union Army to find supplies. They evolved into summertime community events to show off the best a farmer had to offer and the winner got bragging rights for the next year.

This is the start of fair season in the Inland Northwest. The granddaddy of our local fairs is the Spokane County Interstate Fair in Spokane on Sept. 7-16.

The deadline for entering things into the fair for judging is fast approaching. Aug. 7 is the deadline for mailing or delivering entry forms to the fair office. And no, you can’t apply online.

“If you have a hobby or like to create or make something, we probably have a category for you to enter it in,” said Jessica McLaughlin, fair coordinator. “Over the years, I’ve seen almost everything entered at one time or another.”

To find out how to enter your tall sunflower, quilt, photograph or whatever your favorite thing is, go to the Interstate Fair’s website: content.aspx?c=2142. Select your category and then read the rules carefully so you know how to prepare your entry, when to bring it to the fairgrounds, when judging will be and when you will be able to pick it up after the fair closes. Entry is free except for animals where there is a fee for bedding.

“The only thing we don’t allow is entries from kits like Lego, snap model, and K’NEX projects or those that are not family friendly,” McLaughlin said.

Each class of entries has its own judging procedures and rules. There are youth and open classes in each class of entries. Several types of awards are made depending on the type of exhibit. Each ribbon pays a premium; the amount depends on the exhibit. “I always was more interested in the judge’s comments on my entry card than the actual ribbon,” McLaughlin said.

Animal entries are on a first-come, first-served basis as there is a limited amount of space to house the animals. Animals may only be at the fair a few days, so entrants need to be sure they know when to bring in and pick up animals. You must provide all your animal’s food, water and care while it is at the fair. McLaughlin stressed it is important to read the veterinary statement before you bring your animals in.

Can’t find a category for your hobby?

“Ask us about it,” McLaughlin said. “We create new ones every year.”

Pat Munts has gardened in the Spokane Valley for more than 35 years. She can be reached at

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