Shawnee News-Star Saturday Sept 15 2018 Becky Emerson Carlberg The fair has come and gone.   The Horticulture Exhibit was the best in years.   Were you able to come by and see ringmaster Henry the Multi-County Master Gardener scarecrow?   Henry played low-key, keeping to the theme 'The Greatest Show on Dirt.'   The scarecrow sat on a […]

Shawnee News-Star Saturday Sept 15 2018

Clover is “Head over Heels” for 4H

Becky Emerson Carlberg

The fair has come and gone.   The Horticulture Exhibit was the best in years.   Were you able to come by and see ringmaster Henry the Multi-County Master Gardener scarecrow?   Henry played low-key, keeping to the theme 'The Greatest Show on Dirt.'   The scarecrow sat on a bushel basket decked out in his favorite jeans, cotton shirt, most comfortable pair of shoes and best work gloves.   On his head the ringmaster wore his modified black stovepipe hat with band of red to match his black and red cape.   In his hand was a long-handled dandelion fork that he used for a wand.   The colorful array of refurbished happy fruit and veggie performers sat in their tray of dirt on top of a peck basket and looked up at their ringmaster, waiting for his signal.   Henry was so good someone stuck a Shawnee Junior Police badge on his shirt pocket!

I loved Clover.   Clover was the 4-H 'Head over Heels' scarecrow set up on the floor next to Henry.   She had a cheerful scarecrow face, stuffed overalls, red plaid shirt and shoes going in two different directions.   This scarecrow was perfectly balanced upside down.   Her hat had come off and was laying close by.   So clever.   Clover was judged too tall because she exceeded the 6 foot height limit.

The rest of the scarecrow contingency

To the other side of Henry was a small merry faced ringmaster constructed of wood wearing black pants, a black and gray striped vest, white shirt and bright red bowtie under his chin.   He too sported a black top hat with red band and held his 4-H banner proudly proclaiming The Greatest Show theme.   To the ringmaster's side sat his shorter white and red striped circus tent filled to overflowing with animals dancing on a bed of straw.

The fourth scarecrow seemed to be genuinely pleased to be here.   Her face, painted on a gourd, had large eyes and deep smile. It was topped by a broad brimmed hat that dipped secretively over one eye.   Her body was a dress form covered with a gray scarf around her neck, pink shirt, patterned skirt and white apron.   At her side was a chair with canned okra, tomatoes and yellow squash.   Underneath were artificial baby chicks in a coop and pumpkins nestled in autumn leaves.   Green cards labeled with arts, crafts, food preservation, gardening, sewing and other objectives were attached here and there with clothes pins.   The pioneer lady was created by the Oklahoma Home Community Education (OHCE) organization.

OHCE has several chapters across the state.   The association is involved with resource management, improving quality of life programs, education, leadership development and provides support of the military family.   Founded in 1935, this branch of the Family and Consumer Sciences with the OSU Extension Service has changed names a few times: Home Demonstration Clubs, Extension Homemakers and Family & Community Education Groups.

A happy Henry placed second!

The assemblage of scarecrows was impressive, but if the judges went by my definition of scarecrow"a stuffed humanoid able to be set up in a corn field to spook the birds"then only two of the scarecrows would have qualified.   But when imagination and creativity are considered, each scarecrow scored big.

I love fall fairs.   They remind us of that rare bit of eclectic Americana that still exists.   We don't want to lose our connection to the land and should celebrate the seasonal competitions and harvests that bring us back to earth.

The Oklahoma State Fair started Thursday and runs until the 23rd.     Disney on Ice 'Dare to Dream' and the Xtreme Bulls tour are highlights.   The 2018 Tulsa State Fair is September 27-October 7th.   The 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show will be in the River Spirit Building and showcase wedding cakes that took weeks or months of preparation.   See them September 29th and 30th. What will be the butter sculpture this year?   Last year Sarah Pratt carved a Tilt-a-Whirl out of 700 pounds of chilled butter.   She is one of 6 butter sculptors in the US.

The Arkansas Oklahoma State Fair will be from September 21st to the 29th.   Held in Ft. Smith Arkansas, this fair has Old McDonald's Farm, Expo exhibits, performances at the Old Fort Days Stage and, as do the other fairs, the Midway/carnival, livestock competitions and tractor events.   Each year my school went to the Arkansas Oklahoma Exposition (as it was then called).   I brought home goldfish, stuffed fake snakes my mother refused to let come into the house and other hard-won prizes.   It was here I heard one carnie selling hot dogs yell: 'Nice and greasy, slip down easy.'   You just can't forget immortal sayings like that.   The often-outlawed claw machines or coin pushers I still find fascinating.   'There's a sucker is born every minute.'   That sucker is me in in my pursuit of a plastic coin purse full of quarters that shoves all the coins off to the sides or a cute weighted, pinned down and impossible to move stuffed animal.

Have you seen the Gaura blooming in fields and alongside fences?   Much more refined, dainty and taller than the prolific Snow on the Mountains, the Gaura is now going to seed.   Walking past my 6 foot tall Gaura plant growing by the driveway, I noticed two caterpillars working their way along stems.   I thought the small striped larva with orange faces were thin Monarch caterpillars that should have been eating milkweed, but had settled for Gaura plants.   Nope, these caterpillars are supposed to be eating Gaura.   The 'anorexic Monarch caterpillars' as one person quipped, are actually Clouded Crimson Moth caterpillars (Schinia gaurae).  The moths are concentrated in the southern and central part of the United States.   Clouded Crimson moth caterpillars will feed on Gaura and when it is time, drop to the ground to pupate.   They don't spin cocoons but form shiny sepia colored cases.   In 10 days emerge flashy pink winged moths with a white and yellow headdress and emerald green eyes.   The small one-inch moths seem to be as pretty as the flowers with which they associate, but you may not see them as they are nocturnal and fly at night.

Clouded Crimson Caterpillar on Gaura

Fair time is here.   Every fair is truly the Greatest Show on Dirt!   Go get grounded.