By MEDICINE HAT NEWS on July 29, 2023.
After a another poor crop of entries, organizers of the Better Living exhibit and competitions at the Stampede are determining how to grow interest in earning ribbons and prizes for garden produce and hobby projects.
“It’s up a little bit from last year,” said Better Living organizer committee chair Cathy Treiber told the News.
“It could be that people just aren’t getting back into things.”
This year’s show includes some luscious produce, fine quilt-work and unique crafts, but there are also large gaps in categories along the long tables in the Cypress Centre Auditorium.
The event is helped filled by longtime supporters in the clubs for Fibre Arts, Woodcarvers, Quilting and other crafting guilds, but open entries for crafts baking, preserves and garden classes, like best potatoes or bunches of grapes, are meant for individuals to show their handiwork and hard work.
“What’s here looks good, but there’s not a lot,” said judge Alison Van Dyke, a city councillor and head of Community Food Connections.
That group’s mission is to increase “food security” in the area, promoting economy, self reliance and education about local food production.
Interest in the group’s community garden plots has increased from an excess of space before the pandemic to a waiting current list of 29 applications.
But that hasn’t translated to more interest to display the bounty of residential gardens, or see how homemade pickles or baking stacks up against the rest.
“We know that there was a increased interest in gardening, and that’s held,” said Van Dyke, who is also concerned about a lack of entries in homemade goods, like baking and preserves, especially in children’s and teenager categories.
“We know people are doing it. Why not enter?” she asked.
The entry fee is $2, and top-placers receives between $2 and $8 along with ribbons.
Adults and junior categories range from jewelry making, pottery, wood crafts, homemade clothing, beadwork, flower arranging and scrapbooking, along with a wide variety of domestic goods, horticulture and fancywork.
“There a few interesting things this year and a lot of different types of things, like engraving and leather work,” said Treiber. “There is a lot of talent.”
As for garden and farm produce, Treiber partly blames “grasshoppers, hail and heat,” for a deficit of entrees.
Farm produce, such as wheat and varieties of grain, was not accepted this year partly owing to a poor spring, but also the need for a judge accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The listing and brochure for Better Living is typically published in the spring each year, and entries are due the week ahead of Stampede Week.