judging candy

Potential judges of baked goods tasted samples of cookies and candies to review judging criteria provided in their official handbook as part of the Tennessee Registered Judging School for Fairs and Festivals.

It takes blue-ribbon judges to recognize blue-ribbon fair entries, and 16 participants from Wilson County are now members of an elite group.

They were among 116 participants across Middle Tennessee to attend the recent Tennessee Registered Judging School for fairs and festivals in Murfreesboro. The workshop was the first of its kind in the state. Wilson County participants were: Frances Baker; Carolyn Binkley; Caryn Crowston; Ginger Fondren; Robin George; Laurie Grissom; Genevieve Kilga; Regina McCathern; Bryanna Morris; Linda Pepper; Melissa Ross; Evin Ross; Sarah Sharp; Carrie Shehane; Lynda Ann Sparkman; and Penny West.

“It takes experience to be able to identify fair entries that are the cream of the crop. The judging school covered how to be a judge, dos and don’ts, judge etiquette, and featured break-out sessions for in-depth learning,” said Shelly Barnes, a University of Tennessee Extension family and consumer sciences agent in Wilson County who helped to organize the workshop.

UT Extension agents in family and consumer sciences collaborated to create the Tennessee Registered Judging School to provide an educational foundation for fair and festival judges.

Six in-depth sessions were presented, and participants were able to choose three. Sessions included: Baked goods: cookie and candy; Canning, drying, and fermenting; Crafts; Fine arts: oil, acrylic, watercolor and pencil drawings; Needlework; and Clothing construction.

UT Extension agents in family and consumer sciences collaborated to create the Tennessee Registered Judging School to provide an educational foundation for fair and festival judges.

Mary Beth Henley, an FCS agent in Franklin County who collaborated on the effort, said, “It’s a unique opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about judging competitive exhibits at local fairs and festivals.”

Carrie Shehane, a Wilson County Fair volunteer who participated in the event, said she’s excited that the workshop establishes a higher standard for fair judging in Tennessee.

“We owe it to our exhibitors to rightly judge workmanship — but the knowledge I gained at the school will be applied in more ways than just fair judging,” she said.

The judging school committee works closely with the Tennessee Association of Fairs, and content partners for the 2019 workshop included, in addition to UT Extension, K-State Research and Extension, Kansas 4-H Youth Development, Maryland Association of Agricultural Fairs and Shows, Utah State University Extension and Utah 4-H.

Helen McPeak, Middle Tennessee Director of Tennessee Association of Fairs, said she thinks the county Extension agents who collaborated to create the workshop deserve a blue ribbon for their efforts to meet the need for providing an educational program for fair judges.

“There has long been a gap between education and the judging process. This judging school fills that void by creating a standard for judging competitive exhibits in Tennessee,” she said. “We look forward to being able to secure trained, quality judges across our state for fairs and other competitions.”

Plans are already underway for the 2020 Tennessee Registered Judging School, which will feature agricultural and family and consumer sciences emphasis on competitive exhibits.

For information about the Tennessee Registered Judging School, contact Shelly Barnes at sbarnes@utk.edu or (615) 444-9584.

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