Wilton’s Cannon Grange holds ‘virtual’ fair
WILTON — Tasked with the challenge of how to hold an old-time country fair in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, members of the Cannon Grange in Wilton turned to modern technology.
The fair was not held in person this year, but was still held virtually on Sunday, Aug. 30. It was captured in a series of six videos on the Cannon Grange’s YouTube channel.
The videos, taken by grange member Michele Clark, provide a walk-through of what visitors would have seen at the 88th annual Cannon Grange Agricultural Fair and Exposition.
The first video shows the entries and ribbon winners for vegetable and flower submissions.
Prizes were awarded for a wide-variety of garden-grown vegetables including tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, peppers, dried beans, fresh herbs, and vegetable/fruit art.
Colorful fresh flowers, such as zinnias, dahlias, hydrangea, roses, sunflowers and wildflowers, were judged individually as well in groupings.
Best-in-Show awards went to a group of hot green peppers in the vegetable category and striking yellow and coral-colored dahlias in the flower category.
A second video shows entries to the fair’s “virtual” contests where they were submitted online. There was a virtual contest for poultry and fowl — including chickens, water fowl, and eggs. Livestock categories included rabbits, goats, animals/pets.
Bil Mikulewicz, aka a “Chicken Tender,” judged the poultry and water fowl contest. There were more submissions this year in that category than previously, he said.
“I think it was much easier to take a picture of the bird than worrying about getting a vaccination form, catching the bird, and transporting it for in-person judging. It would be easier to bring a four-legged animal like a sheep rather than a bird,” he said.
Judging chickens by photos was a bit of a challenge for Mikulewicz. “That was one of the most difficult things. There were so many variables — the photography, the different breeds. Then within the breed I had to determine if it was a good example of the breed and if it was well cared for. It was incredibly hard to decide. If I could, I would have given every entry a Best-in-Show ribbon, they were all terrific,” he said.
A black-striped chicken took top honors in the poultry category. While a Silver Appleyard duck got a blue ribbon for water fowl.
In the rabbit category, a gray senior doe took top honors.
In Animals/Pets, a very comfortable, sleepy dog took Best-in-Show.
Best-in-Show honors for eggs went to three pale blue duck eggs.
Non-animated categories featured crafts and collections, holiday decorations, jewelry, decorative object painting, photography, art and sewing, embroidery and needlework.
Best-in-Show for holiday decorations went to a book, opened flat, with ruffled and curled pages resembling a holiday turkey.
A pair of striped sweater tunics took Best-in-Show for hand knitting, while a multi-colored floral still life painting earned Best-in-Show honors.
This year, there was a special COVID-19 Art/Artistic Expression contest. Best-in-Show went to a purple and blue acrylic “pouring” painting.
A first-place ribbon went to a multimedia video showing how The Wilton Library Association made 500 face shields for Norwalk Hospital using 3D printers.
Ann Klotz, a longtime Cannon Grange Fair exhibitor and vendor was featured in a third video, where she discusses the art of quilting and shows a number of her colorful handmade quilts.
For the fair’s entertainment, a music video features ukulele swing music by the Edukated Fleas duo, Greg Doyle and Wendy Matthews.
Experts from the American Chestnut Foundation and the Back Yard Bee Keepers Association, were featured in a Tent Talks video.
There was also an informational video by the Savannah Bee Company, discussing the importance of bees and their pollinator education program.