The big surprise at Durham Fair 2019

Road trip to Durham, Connecticut.  It’s my fifth and final entry for Competition Season 2019, and there are several storylines this time around.

For this competition, I entered my macro dandelion photo After the Rain, along with two new entries – my photo of a distressed Grateful Dead-painted Volkswagen Beetle, Brokedown on Maggie’s Farm, and my experimental Ferris Wheel-meets-Instamatic shot, Five Tickets to Ride Day and Night.   After the Rain has claimed silks in every contest I have entered it in – a blue at Altamont, a blue at the Big E, an Honorable Mention at the New York State Fair.  Could this picture become my fourth shot – after The Jumbuck, Jesus Saves and Washington County 2:30 a.m. – to pick up three blue silks?  And for that matter, could two last-minute swap-ins get their first silks?

Right off the bat, my arrival at Durham turned out better than last year.  Last year, because of torrential rainstorms that soaked all of Durham’s ancillary parking lots, fairgoers were shuttled off to a stone quarry 20 miles away.  This year, however, the Strickland Farm had plenty of parking – and for once, it didn’t look like it was a stand-in for a Dust Bowl scene.

Of course, I ended up riding one of the school bus shuttles to the Fair – and I think this one was still operating on the bad, battered springs – and I swear the bus driver hit EVERY SINGLE POTHOLE from the parking lot to the Fairgrounds drop-off location.  Wow.

Still, I made it to the Fairgrounds – and the 100th anniversary Durham Fair T-shirt I was sporting got a lot of nice applause from the fair workers and volunteers.  Heck, two of them joined me in a Durham Fair Selfie.

Rather than run to the Creative Arts Building to see how my photos did, I took the slow route and visited some of the animal pens.  And in one of the pens, there were two goats – in different pens – who were trying to head-butt each other and give each other the stink-eye.  This one little colt in one pen, versus a baby ram in another.  Wait, were the Colts and Rams playing each other today?

I also took some film shots that were “test” images with another camera I recently acquired.  We’ll see how those turn out once the film is developed.

Okay, it’s time to check out the photos.  Off to the Creative Arts Building I go.

Ooh, this picture looks nice, that picture looks impressive, and – wait, there’s Five Tickets to Ride Day and Night and it has …

Red dot means second place ribbon!

First entry … first ribbon for this sweet shot.

And right near it, there’s After The Rain, and …

Blue dot for a blue ribbon! First place!!

Sweet!  Triple Blue!  And this picture has claimed a silk in EVERY competition I’ve entered it in!

But what about Brokedown at Maggie’s Farm?  Yeah, I don’t think I’ll get a blue on that picture … it’s usually one blue per year.  I’m not that good yet …

Is that a blue dot right there?

Holy American Beauty, Batman, this picture claimed a blue!  Two blues in one competition, that’s never happened to me in any photo contest in a very long time, and never two blues in the same building!

Okay … that feels good.  Let me pose with a selfie next to one of my blue ribbon photos.

Okay, I’ve got a few hours to kill before I can pick up my entries – they don’t get released until after 7:00 p.m., so let’s get some food and snacks and take some other pictures.

One of the fair food vendors is selling different types of poutine, so I order some poutine.  The girl who takes my order is wearing a very tight Coca-Cola T-shirt.  Okay, I’ll get a soda with my poutine order.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said.  “We don’t have any soda for sale at this booth.  But you can get soda at the next booth.”

Um … then why are you wearing a Coca-Cola T-shirt that’s so tight, your Tabs are showing?  Ah, never mind, I’ve got two blue ribbons and three ribbons overall, I’m just going to be a mello yello fello and move like a sprite over to the next booth and get a cold refreshing diet cola.

Late lunch is done.  I walk through one of the souvenir stands, and next thing I know … someone else has walked into the souvenir booth, and is thanking all the volunteers for their service at the Fair.

Hey, this guy looks familiar …

Wait, that’s Senator Richard Blumenthal!  I see him on MSNBC all the time!!

You know it …

Selfie time.

I thanked Sen. Blumenthal for what he’s done for Connecticut, and I told him that I hoped he would be able to break through the impasse in the Senate.  He said he has tried.

By the way, any rumors that I broke Sen. Blumenthal’s arm because he found out that I was the “whistleblower” has been immediately denied by a high White Horse souse.  Yes, you saw what I did there.

Okay, back to get my photos.

But apparently, unbeknownst to me … my photo of After the Rain wasn’t finished winning awards.

See this?

The base of this camera-trophy says “Durham Fair 2019 // People’s Choice Award.”

You see that Post-it Note taped to the back of the award?

Here, let me show you what that Post-it Note said.

Beloved blog readers … After the Rain has become the first Chuck Miller artwork – photo or otherwise – to claim a “People’s Choice” award.  EVER.  That’s right, crawling on the ground and photographing a drenched dandelion with a Nikon Df and a HELIOS-44H Soviet lens and a bunch of extension tubes can win popular vote awards.

Wow and wow and wow and wow.

This is freakin’ incredible.

Much thanks to the judges and voters at the Durham Fair.  Also much thanks to my bud Bob Burger, who was kind enough to bring the pictures to the Fairgrounds for me this year.

And with this … Competition Season 2019 is complete.  All that’s left is Charity Season 2019, and I have some great treats on that front.

But a recap of everything.

  • After the Rain earned four ribbons this year, three blues and an Honorable.
  • Brokedown on Maggie’s Farm claimed a blue in its first appearance.
  • Five Tickets to Ride Day and Night claimed a silk, my first photo with Instamatic film to do so since 2015’s Jessica: Instamatic Dichotomy snagged a blue at Durham.
  • Mittsu No Yuki, my macro photo of three snowflakes, garnered a silk at the Big E.
  • Three other pictures – 88 Minutes in Chinatown, Senses Working Overtime and Romance on Gondola 23 – were displayed in Syracuse, the first time I’ve ever had four pictures shown at that gallery (After the Rain also garnered some love there).
  • My art projects also earned a blue (Bob & Ron’s Fish Fry latch hook, NYS Fair), two second place reds (Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco latch hook, NYS Fair; GLF Quality burlap stitching project, Altamont) and an Honorable (Eastern States Farmer’s Exchange burlap stitching project, NYS Fair).
  • Three artworks were displayed in Iowa, including last year’s triple blue Washington County 2:30 a.m., my multi-image project The Bridge to Infinity, and my infrared New Scotland Road.

All in all … a very successful Competition Season 2019 is in the books.  With the lion’s share of silks draped around a close-up picture of water droplets on a dandelion.

Wow.  This is something.

Of course, when you’ve reached this kind of high … what’s Competition Season 2020 going to look like?  😀