Judging at State and County Fairs
While in college I had been on the Collegiate Apple Judging Team. We won a dual contest at Lincoln, Nebraska in 1915. While at Sioux City I entered some apples at the Sioux City fair. There was a large exhibit from Des Moines and further south in Iowa. My fruit was entered in the Northern District, the large exhibits in the Southern District. The Worth Brothers of Mondamin had fruit entered but, when they found out that the judge was an old crony of most of their competitors they told the Superintendent they would not exhibit unless there was another judge. They had exhibited at the State Fair during the two years I helped Mr. Garrett so they suggested that I help this other judge. As a result, I did my first Fair judging of Fruit in September 1917 at the Interstate Fair at Sioux City. The next year, 1918, I judged a county fair at Knoxville where I had to judge all the fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains and forage samples. A few weeks later I started my first judging of fruit at the Iowa State Fair—the morning after I was married.
Since 1918 I have judged at 42 State Fairs, the last in 1967. I only missed three years, years when I tried to turn this work over to a younger man. I have judged at many county fairs over the state, often six or eight during a single season. Also at three different times I judged the fruit at state fairs at Lincoln, Nebraska, Sedalia, Missouri and Hutchinson, Kansas. Later, after I started teaching I had the privilege of coaching 3 or 4 apple judging teams.
I will end this portion about judging by telling of one of the many interesting experiences I had. Believe it or not, it is true. One fall Bud Churchill, an Extension man in Farm Corps and I were asked to judge at the Marshall County Fair at Marshalltown. He judged the grains and vegetables; I, the fruits and flowers. There was also on display an excellent exhibit of honey and beeswax. The management had no judge for it. They asked each of us separately if we would judge it. We both said “No”, although occasionally both of us had placed a few classes of honey at a small fair. Finally they asked us if we would tackle judging the honey working together. We finally consented and got along fairly well until we came to a class of four one-pound jars of strained honey. We held the jars to the light to compare color, turned the bottles upside down to check consistency and they all looked the same. Finally we opened each and took a drop out of each and placed it on paper to see I we could find any difference. All four drops looked alike. While we were debating the question a fly came buzzing around and lit on one of the drops. Then and there we decided if we did not know which one was best, the fly did. So we gave that sample First!
Submitted by Scott Nichols
of Ames, IA
This submission was take from the autobiography of Harry Nichols, Scott’s Grandfather. Harry Nichols worked at ISU in the extension dept and as a professor from about 1920 to 1970. He was an expert in Apples and had a hand in many Iowa orchards developed in the above time period. He judged Apples at the state fair for over 40 years which is probably a record and his Judging ribbons are displayed at the state fair grounds. He also planted the apple trees that are along the walkway up to the pioneer building.