Cannon Grange Fair: Low-tech day offers high level of fun

There were prize-winning pies, prize-winning bunnies and even a prize-winning snow globe collection, not to mention more than a few sticky fingers and a fleet of rubber duckies sailing down the Norwalk River.

They were all part of the 80th Cannon Grange Agricultural Fair & Exposition on Sunday, Aug. 19, at the grange on Cannon Road.
In addition there was live music, games, and a score of vendors and exhibitors.

Among the contestants was Thumper, a 1-1/2-year-old black Netherland dwarf rabbit that took the blue ribbon in his class. He is owned by Courtney Hynes, 14, of Wilton, who said Thumper is “sweet and loves to play. He tries to push his way out of the cage.” Courtney, who belongs to the Wilton Pony Club, said she was at the fair not as part of any group, but “just for the fun of it.”

Jerre Dawson, of Hook & Ladder Hand Knits, won a blue ribbon for a pair of yellow knitted socks and a felted witch’s hat. A member of the Wilton Garden Club, Ms. Dawson had a booth where she sold her knitted and felted handiwork including mittens and shawls as well as snowmen, sheep, and vegetables and flowers.

Winning the Cannon Grange Perpetual Trophy for her coconut custard pie, with a homemade crust, was Juliana Fodera of Ridgefield, whosaid she learned how to cook and bake from her mother.

Ms. Fodera is not a newcomer to the grange baking contest. Two years ago she entered a key lime pie and won first place.
“This was an experimentation to broaden my repertoire,” she said of her coconut custard pie. “I am a pumpkin pie girl at heart and I love my mom’s apple pie.”

Another veteran of the baking contest is Dave Barrett, whose sweet potato and banana pie won best in show of all the baked goods.

“I was stunned,” he said of his victory. Mr. Barrett, who is a correspondent for CBS News and was acting as emcee for the fair, is a lifelong baker. In the past he won a blue ribbon for buttermilk chocolate chip cookies.

He was a little conflicted about entering this year’s contest. “Yesterday was my 22nd wedding anniversary,” he said on Sunday, with his wife Joyce by his side. After going out for a celebratory dinner he elected not to bake Saturday night, but instead got up at 6 the next morning.

“The recipe is called Sweet Juanita’s Sweet Potato Banana Pie,” he said, from an Aunt Bee’s cookbook from Mayberry fame. “I have a crust recipe I have in my head,” he said, which he can make at any time.

Mr. Barrett has never made this recipe before so he was a little concerned. “It looked good about halfway through baking,” he said. He took it out of the oven at five minutes to 8 and with all entries having to be in by 8:30, he rushed right over.
“I thought third place or second if I got lucky,” he said. “ I’m just thrilled about it.”

Mr. Barrett bought his pie back so he could taste it.

“A few years ago I won with kneaded bread and got to go to the state baking contest,” he recalled. “I and about 100 other people got honorable mention. I figured that would be the pinnacle of my baking career, but not now.”

This year, the honor of going to the state contest may be claimed by Susan Mathews, who won the state adult baking contest with her Cream Cheese Pound Cake.

Watermelons and ducks
One of the more competitive events Sunday was the watermelon-eating contest for kids. The younger division was won by Emma Cantor, a 10-year-old Mets fan, followed closely by Reina Calafell, 7, and Charlotte Casiraghi, also 7.

Charlotte also took home blue ribbons for her snickerdoodles and brownies, while her 10-year-old sister Lilly won ribbons for sewing, muffins and oatmeal raisin cookies, prompting their mother to say, “It’s been a good day for the Casiraghi household.”
One of the more unusual exhibits was brought by Katie Kandie, whose 73-piece snow globe collection won first prize for collections. Katie, 14, who will be a freshman at Wilton High School next week, has been collecting snow globes since she was 7.
Her father Andrew, who travels on business, helps contribute to the collection.

“I noticed my dad went to a lot of cool places,” said Katie. “He used to bring home T-shirts, but you outgrow those.”

Now, he brings her snow globes from his travels and when the family vacations, Katie adds to her collection. Some of the more unusual places her snow globes commemorate are the Isle of Man, Malta and Cyprus. Some of her snow globes, particularly from the tropics, are not round at all but square or rectangular.

“Each has a little story to tell about each destination,” she said. For example, the snow globe from Cologne, Germany, depicts a cathedral not destroyed during World War II. A globe from Texas creates a tornado effect when shaken.

The culmination of every grange fair is the duck race down the Norwalk River and this year was no exception. Shortly after 3:30 the ducks were out of the gate and it was a spirited race as they floated downstream upright, upside down, backwards and spinning.

At the end No. 209 proved the fleet-webbed winner, taking first prize for a man identified as Mr. Oles.

“It was a tough race,” Mr. Oles told Mr. Barrett when asked about No. 209’s performance. “But we pulled ahead. At the end we were praying for the sprint.”