Jelly Maven Doesn't Sugarcoat It

For immediate release:

September 8, 2013
Nashville, TN

Allison Everett of Nashville is boiling...mad.

Loyal readers may remember that last year, Allison wrote an e mail to the powers that be asking why her jelly was returned to her unopened.

This year, she learned that the rules now explicitly state that jelly will not be opened in judging.

Additionally, in past years, canning entries were not charged a fee.  This year, the State Fair began charging a $2 per entry fee.  In addition, for registering online, Allison was docked a $2 "Convenience Fee".

When she arrived at the fair to drop off her entries (pepper jelly and for the first time, strawberry jam), she learned that the online entries had not properly been accounted for, and no hang tags had been created.  She was asked to fill out the paperwork for a second time.  Mrs. Everett asked why she was charged a convenience fee if she herself was going to be inconvenienced.  Tags were hastily handwritten and put on her entries.  She then asked for her Exhibitor Pass, for which she had paid $5 online.  The Ag Extension representatives were befuddled, and directed her to a woman halfway across the exhibit hall.

The woman had to go and find the passes (expressing irritation at having to do so), and Allison grew more frustrated.  It seemed that nobody was adequately prepared.  While she was waiting, she also noted that the number of entries appeared to be down from previous years.

In fact, at the time she left the hall, with a little over an hour left until deadline, there were only three entries in the pepper jelly category.  One seemed clearly inferior - cloudy and filled with seeds.  The other was lighter in color to Allison's but similar in every other way.

Saturday morning, Allison arrived at the fairground, exhibitor pass in hand and ready to see the results.  What she encountered was yet another roadblock.  The lot which had formerly offered free parking was now $5.   When she asked where she might park for free, she was told that no such thing existed.  Reluctantly, she handed over $5 for a terrible spot, located far from the entrance of the grounds.

She made her way to the exhibit hall, and her initial suspicions about the reduced entries were confirmed.  What would normally be a large and well-filled set of shelves were two rows of chest high shelves, sparsely populated.


The shelves were also poorly labeled and organized, but after some time, Allison found her entry, bedecked in a red, second place ribbon.  The occluded jar had won third, and the lighter colored jelly had taken the blue ribbon - that jelly was the product of one Mrs. N.  Chambers of Cumberland Furnace, TN.

Note the tiny ribbon and poorly executed tag.

Allison's strawberry jam did not place.  Neither did Mrs. Chambers'. Suck it!

In reviewing the entries, Allison saw two last names missing.  Huddleston and Hoffman - these two dominant forces in the Tennessee canning circuit were notably absent.   Most of the categories contained less than 5 entries, and in many cases, there were fewer entries than ribbons.

And then,  Allison noticed something that made her smile.  Several entries from House of Chambers had been disqualified, with the reasons for it written right on the hang tags.

That's bush league, old girl!

Oooh, that's not good.  Are you feeling OK, Mrs. Chambers?

With the knowledge that her nemesis was slipping, Allison made her way over to the goats.  Since she'd spent money both to park at and enter the fair, she felt a little quality caprine time was in order.

Goats can smell a winner.

After petting a few sweet long-eared beauties, Mrs. Everett wandered idly through the rabbit and poultry exhibits.

I'm sorry you taste delicious fried.  But quit giving me the feathery eyeball.

She then went back into the Ag Hall and washed her hands compulsively.

Finally, she exited through the Creative Arts hall, looking one last time at her red ribbon, which appeared to be smaller than in previous years.

Based on this year's fair, Mrs. Everett has issued to us the following statement:

"I believe that with this second place ribbon, my time at the Tennessee State fair has come to an end.  Five ribbons in seven years is respectable, and I honestly don't agree with the changes that have been made to the fair.  It seems that it's an enterprise of greed.   I can't support that.  I can't support a system that judges foodstuffs on appearance and not taste.  I cannot support the poor organization and complacency that seems to have infested the very foundations of what made the institution what it was.  I'll continue to make jelly and jam, but I won't let a corrupt group of individuals with questionable integrity determine my worth, or the worth of my craft.  Now f*** all y'all, I'm going home."

Subsequently, at the suggestion of her husband, Mrs. Everett did a Google search to make sure that some of her former competitors were not competing because of the rule changes, and not simply because they were deceased.  They're not.

Mrs. Everett will return to the Tennessee State Fair one last time on September 15th to retrieve her unopened jars and tiny little ribbon.