The Big E-Durham Fair Double Dip, 2022 edition

These two fair photography competitions end my “Competition Season” for 2022. My eclipse photo As Seen From Screven County has already claimed three silks (including two first-place blues at Iowa and the New York State Fair), while my infrared shot We Serve Wayward Strangers has earned two second-place banners. Three other images were prepared for these two events. Let’s see how things turned out.

First things first. To get to the Big E without battling traffic and parking, you have to leave Albany very early in the morning. 7:15 for me. Well, actually it was 7:30 because I was almost on the highway when I realized I had forgotten to pack my free exhibitor’s admission tickets. Bad Chuck. Bad, bad Chuck.

Okay. 7:30. Get on I-787. Then on I-90. Then on I-91. Get off I-91 and …

Traffic jam. The rod to the Big E looked like a car dealership.

No matter. I still made it into the Fairgrounds. Oh yeah, and just for all you EV drivers out there – there’s no car chargers at the Big E. This is not acceptable. The Big E needs free car chargers in their general admission parking lots. Let’s make this happen.

Got inside. Walked around a bit. My thing with the Big E is that I need to visit a few buildings, check out some of the animal exhibits, visit a couple of the State Houses, then go to the New England Center and see how my photos did.

Riding shotgun with me on this trip was my Nikon F2S (“Nikon Athena”), packed with a roll of Fuji 400 print film. Maybe I can get a shot here with this camera for future Big E use. We shall see.

Walked by an exhibit in the agricultural center. It’s a collection of gigantic pumpkins. Like, super-gigantic. Like, you couldn’t put this on your front porch step, it would block your entire front door.

1,469 pounds. Three-quarters of a ton. I wonder how many pumpkin pies you can make from that bad boy.

There were a team of Clydesdale horses on display. And as I turned a corner, I saw what these Clydesdales go through in terms of keeping them clean and show-ready.

Should I make a joke about the horse’s ass washing the horse’s ass? Probably not. Oops. Too late.

Okay, fun is over. Let’s go to the New England Center and see how my entries went. The Big E does their judging on the Danish system – the photos are judged against a quality standard rather than against each other. So there can be an entire wall of first-place winners.

The View From Screven County was submitted … and …

That is a pretty red silk for a second place win. So far, this eclipse montage has earned four silks in a row. Only two of my photos have ever earned five silks – The AGFA Bridge Over Ansco Lake, which earned its silks nearly a decade ago; and After The Rain, my dandelion macro photo that got five ribbons and three blues.

I could have entered We Serve Wayward Strangers in this show as well; however, it was not entered due to a technicality. The Big E wants photos that were captured after a certain date; and my infrared photo of the Toll Gate Ice Cream parlor was shot a few days PRIOR to the date. Oh well. Instead, I submitted a shot of the Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson Railroad as it crossed Route 9W. I’m not expecting magic from it, but I wanted to give it a shot. And …

Is that a blue ribbon I see on that artwork? Why, yes it is!

First blue ever scored by my Pentacon Six camera. First time since 2010 that a photo taken with AGFA Scala B&W slide film has earned a ribbon, and this time it earned a big fat blue!

I’m good with this. Very good with this. So I’m going to celebrate by blowing my diabetes out of the water and gorging on a delicious Big E eclair.

And I must tell you. That eclair was delicious. Of course it was.

I walked around the Fairgrounds for a while, and saw something cool. Wayne Carini of the TV show Chasing Classic Cars gave the fairgoers a classic car show. Check out this ’66 Chevelle. That’s a gasser if I ever saw one.

I swear, if Wayne Carini can ever find me a jet-black 1977 Pontiac Trans-Am with a T-bar roof, mag wheels, four on the floor and a built-in CB radio, I’m so there.

Finally ended my Big E walking tour with, of all things, a sheep-shearing demonstration. This is fun to watch. The shearer explained that sheep don’t mind getting trimmed, it’s actually healthy for domesticated sheep, and if done correctly, it won’t hurt the sheep at all.

I don’t know about you, but those trimmers are getting close enough to make that stud a gelding. Yowtch.

Okay. Had my fun at the Big E. Now for a 90-minute drive to Connecticut and see how my four pictures did at the Durham Fair.

Arrived at the moon-crater parking lot known as Strickland Farm. Rode the school bus from the Farm to the Fairgrounds. And again, I procrastinated – I can’t just run to the photo building and see how my stuff did. I have to stretch this out. And that meant visiting one of the animal barns.

Couldn’t pull myself away from the rabbit pen. Wow, those guys are so cute. If I hadn’t watched Watership Down as a kid … I’d probably think that all these bunnies are cute and peaceful.

Apparently this is a harlequin bunny – white on one side, colored on the other. Now whether this means that this is the bunny equivalent of that Star Trek: TOS episode “Let This Be Your Last Battlefield,” or maybe if Warner Bros. wanted to make a League of Super-Pets 2 with a bunny-themed Harley Quinn character … but I digress.

Because you have to see this.

There was actually a demonstration of – and I kid you not – bunny rabbit steeplechase racing.

That’s right. Bunny steeplechase.

Don’t believe me?

Scope this.

You know what … it looks much better in slow motion. You know, like Chariots of Fire, if Vangelis wrote a musical score about bunny steeplechase.

Okay. Let’s go to the photography building.

Okay, first up is my sunflower photo, A Bicolor Sunflower … and …

Blue dot means first place! Wow! First time out of the box, first successful sunflower photo capture, and it’s got a sweet blue dot for first place in its category.

And a few images over to the right is The View From Screven County, which has …

Holy eclipse, Batman – another blue ribbon. Triple blue for Screven County, AND it’s a clean-sweep of ribbons for this photo for Competition Season 2022!

Okay, now let’s check out We Serve Wayward Strangers. Second-place red in Iowa. Second-place red in Syracuse. And …

Red dot for second place at Durham. It’s official. This picture is the equivalent of Alydar. 😀

Well, I entered four images this year at Durham – three in the regular photo salon, and one in a flowing “celebration” category – one that encapsulates our cultural rebirth from the grip of COVID-19. That’s my rooftop fireworks shot earlier this year from the Kenmore. Now where is it. It’s on on the wall with my other entries.

Oh wait, it’s on this other wall.

Wait … it’s on THIS other wall?

That’s the Best in Show wall. My photo’s on the Best in Show wall.

This is not possible. Someone must be pranking me.

No, it happened. For the first time since The AGFA Bridge Over Ansco Lake won a BIS in 2013, I’ve got a Best in Show at the Durham Fair. Wowie!

And with all that, Competition Season 2022 comes to a triumphant conclusion. Arguably my best year for my photo submissions.

Okay, this is the part where I thank people, because none of this could be done by myself.

Thanks to the judges, volunteers and operators of the photography salons at the Durham Fair, the Big E, the Iiowa State Fair, the New York State Fair and the Altamont Fair. Thanks to McGreevy Pro Lab (my pro lab of choice) for printing and foam-boarding all my award-winning entries this year. Thanks to Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas and to DR5 in Iowa for developing my slide films for photos like The Snowflake Ride and A Rooftop Celebration and Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson Railroad.

And a humble thanks to an old friend, WRGB reporter and all-around good guy Ken Screven, whose passing earlier this year inspired me to rename my lunar eclipse photo in his honor and in his memory.

And now for the year’s scores.

  • The View From Screven County becomes my fifth “Triple Blue” award winner, as it claimed first prizes in three separate photo salons. It’s also my first-ever Triple Blue in which two of the wins came at Iowa and at Syracuse.
  • We Serve Wayward Strangers is, for lack o a better term, my first-ever “Triple Red” by clinching three second-place awards. Nice haul.
  • The Snowflake Ride (NYS Fair), A Rooftop Celebration (Durham), Saratoga Corinth & Hudson Railroad (Big E) and A Bicolor Sunflower (Durham) got blue ribbons on their first go-round. Some of these might receive some exposure in Competition Season 2023, I don’t know yet.
  • My Nikon F2S (“Nikon Athena”) gets its first blue (A Rooftop Celebration).
  • My Pentacon Six gets its first blue (Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson Railroad). That photo also garners my first-ever blue ribbon with the discontinued AGFA Scala 200 B&W slide film.
  • Scored my first blue with Fuji Velvia 100 film (The Snowflake Ride), and another blue ribbon for my Rolleiflex Automat MX.
  • My Nikon Df picked up a triple blue and a five-ribbon run with The View From Screven County.
  • My Google Pixel 6 Pro camera garnered my first-ever blue ribbon for a cell phone camera shot (A Bicolor Sunflower).

Competition Season 2022 is now in the books. Art and Charity Season 2022 now commences. I’ve got four framed entries that are headed for the New Jersey International Photography Exhibition, and I’m still parsing through artworks for the upcoming Albany Institute of History and Art gala and for Historic Albany Foundation’s BUILT charitable show.

Oh yeah, and there’s always preparation for Competition Season 2023.

I think I started working on entries for that yesterday, when I took Nikon Athena to the Big E and shot a roll of film with it.

We shall see.

Yes we shall.