The Big E-Durham Road Trip, 2017 Edition

This is a great way to wrap up Competition Season 2017.

Two of my pictures, Stone Saltwater Surf and Seagulls and Step and Pivot, are at the Big E’s Photo Salon at the Eastern States Exhibition.  Those two pictures, along with What the Grasshopper Saw and The Cumulo-Nimbus Eclipse, are also appearing at the Durham Fair in Connecticut, just a couple of hours away.

Wanna go on a road trip?

Sure you do.

But I gotta warn you … you need to get up VERY EARLY in the morning.

We’re leaving at 6:00 a.m.

What do you mean, 6:00 a.m.?  On a Sunday?  Have you lost your mind?

No.  Trust me on this.

When you submit entries to the Big E, you receive a parking pass for Lot 1, which is very close to the Fair itself.  But Lot 1 fills up quickly – and even more so on a Sunday.  So if you don’t get to the lot before, say, maybe 8:00 a.m., you’re stuck in Lot 9 – which is three miles outside of Worcester.

Thankfully, this time I made it to Lot 1 with plenty of parking to spare.

And at about 8:00 in the morning … I’m at the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Of course, the New England Center – the locale for the photography salon – doesn’t officially open until 10:00 a.m.  So to kill a couple of hours, I took in an interdenominational ecumenical service on the Fairgrounds.

10:00 a.m. rolls around.  And I look for my artworks.  First up, I find Step and Pivot

There it is, an honorable mention yellow silk.  First silk earned by Step and Pivot all year.

And as for my other entry – the wistful Stone, Saltwater, Surf and Seagulls

Look, an Honorable Mention for that photo – the first silk THIS piece has earned in competition.  Yay.

I also found out that the Big E’s Photography Salon will remain at two entries per person for 2018 … however, since people who enter the Arts and Crafts categories are allowed THREE total entries (in my case, it would be two entries for photography and a third entry in knitting / crocheting / lace / felting / quilting / etc.), I may see what possibilities there are for a knitting or quilting or embroidery or needlework or stitchery project.  Anybody out there willing to give a hard working blogger some lessons? 😀

But now it’s getting packed at the Fairgrounds.  And it’s getting hot.  Sticky hot.  Thankfully, since I arrived at the Fairgrounds early enough, I was able to find Dracourage at Lot 1 – and now it’s a 90-minute drive to the Durham Fair in Connecticut.

Hello, I-91…

Goodbye, I-91…

Lots of winding roads, and I arrive at the Strickland Farm, one of the ancillary lots where people park and ride on a school bus to get to the Durham Fair.

And once I arrived at the Durham Fair’s fairgrounds, I could feel the temperature rising and rising.  It was hotter and brighter at Durham than it was at Springfield.

Lots of trips to various shady buildings for rest.  And during my travels, I found a cute little Easter Bunny who may be looking for work on another holiday.

I also discovered that when rabbits are shown in competition, they receive an inked number inside their ear.  Say hello to 27.  Not sure if that’s a male name or a female name …

He’s still kinda cute.  Or maybe she’s still kinda cute.  I didn’t bother opening the cage and double-checking things like that.

Okay, a few buildings to go, and I made it to the Durham Fair Photography Salon.

And it’s still hotter than Hades here.

Rather than hang ribbons next to the artworks, the Durham Fair puts colored dots next to each picture, and will give appropriate ribbons (and money) to the photographer after the show.

Here’s the color chart.

Blue for first, red for second, yellow for third, and green for honorable mention.  Sort of looks like someone’s building a sticker-dot version of Twister.

Okay, let’s look around.  What The Grasshopper Saw is down here on the bottom row…

Red dot for second place!

Okay, a second-place finish for my perspective shot!  Two ribbons for Grasshopper for the year!

Where is that Stone, Saltwater, Surf and Seagulls picture?  Oh it’s way up here on the top of the wall…

That’s a red ribbon for that one! Two silks so far!

I should let you know that my last-minute entry into this show, The Cumulo-Nimbus Eclipse, was an attempt to get an eclipse shot into the mix before anybody else did.

Yeah, right.  Counting my picture, there were SIX shots of the Great American Eclipse on display.  Three of them did much better than mine, but mine still…

Green dot means Honorable Mention!

Okay, so far I’ve got three silks for three pictures, and five silks spread across two different events.

So where’s Step and Pivot?

Oh you’re not going to believe this.


My fourth-ever BLUE RIBBON at Durham, my fourth consecutive blue ribbon at this competition!  This joins The AGFA Bridge Over Ansco Lake, Jessica: Instamatic Dichotomy, and Jesus Saves as Durham Fair blue ribbon honorees!

And get this – all four blue ribbon claimers had some sort of sprocket exposure as part of the final result.  How cool is that?

Memo to self.  Make damn sure you’ve got enough sprocket holed film for Durham 2018.  Just sayin’ is all.

And with that, Competition Season 2017 winds down.  Let’s take stock, shall we?

  • Blue ribbons in photography for Step and Pivot (Durham) and Farrell (Altamont).
  • First-ever photography blue at Altamont (Farrell).
  • First-ever ribbon at the Iowa State Fair (What the Grasshopper Saw).
  • First time all four pictures entered at Durham received silks.
  • First time two of my pieces ended up on the walls at Iowa (Farrell and What the Grasshopper Saw).
  • First ever infrared picture to claim a blue (Farrell at Altamont).
  • First ever silk earned with my Kenko 180-degree screw-on bubble lens (What the Grasshopper Saw, third at Iowa, second at Durham).
  • First-ever silk earned with my Irix 15mm f/2.4 super-ultra-wide lens (Stone Saltwater Surf and Seagulls, Honorable Mention at the Big E, second at Durham).

Those successes truly feel great.  And let’s also add the successes earned by my Crate Art Projects at the New York State Fair (including a second place for the soda crate hope chest), and an honorable mention for a Dream Window at Altamont.

Of course, you know I’m still thinking about next year.

Next year, with all my possible ideas and concepts and choices.  Do I run The Cumulo-Nimbus Eclipse at Altamont or the New York State Fair next year?  Do I dust off Farrell and give it a shot at Syracuse?  Should I take that photo from the Boreas Ponds last week and throw that in competition?  Or should I fool everybody and enter a picture of a rabbit with a 27 in its ear?

All these thoughts and more.  And more and more and more.

But that’s for Competition Season 2018.

And right now, I have to deal with getting my stuff ready for Charity Season 2017.

These seasons come and go so quickly, I almost expect Terry Jacks to sing their soundtracks.

Let’s get ready for next year …

Right about …

Oh, let’s say …