By Dorothy McKnight
ESCANABA - While beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, the judges of the variety of items on exhibit at the U.P. State Fair must put their own personal preferences aside and try to be as objective as possible when evaluating a piece of work.
Sally Zimmer, left, and Nancy Henderson check out the workmanship on a family quilt that was submitted for judging at the U.P. State Fair Sunday. Both women are quilters themselves. (Daily Press photo by Dorothy McKnight)
Whether it be needlework, painting, drawing or photograph, it's the quality of work that determines whether the item will sport a red, white or blue ribbon throughout the fair.
Both Beverly Nault and Sandy Dewar appeared to be in a quandary when considering the score of paintings and drawings they were judging in a School Exhibit display.
"You just have to go by the aesthetics of the artwork," said Dewar, who added she had a few creations that appealed to her personally but she was attempting to be as objective as possible. As she and Nault discussed the artwork, one pointed out the details of one particular item. The other discussed the blend of colors in another.
Dewar, who is a first-time judge, said she used her own experience as a teacher's assistant to evaluate the work of the students.
"I don't know the names of any of these kids or how old they are, but there's a lot of really good stuff here," said Dewar. "It's hard to say which is best." Just about the time the women were ready to commit to their choice of winners, they were relieved to learn that they were to judge on the entire collection of artwork; it was explained that whole classrooms were allowed to enter artwork as one exhibit.
While each student in the class will be awarded a ribbon, the teacher will be given a cash gift certificate to use in his/her classroom.
Sally Zimmer and Nancy Henderson put their own quilting skills to good use as they assessed the mound of quilts that were submitted for judging.
"We put our own personal preferences aside and look at workmanship, creativity, use of color and visual impact," said Henderson. "We also don't know whose quilt we're looking at - that helps us be objective."
Quilts are judged following the guidelines in the categories in which they are entered, whether small - such as baby quilts and lap-size - or large - such as bed size. They are also divided again to include the technique involved in the construction - applique, hand-quilted, long-armed, machine quilted, machine embroidery, or tied.
Texture, taste and looks were all considered as Amy Winkelbauer judged the food items that were exhibited, saying she's "not fussy and is willing to try anything."
As in the case of the quilt judges, Winkelbauer brings her own expertise to the table.
"I work for a caterer," she said, as she carefully looked over a cake entry before tasting it.
When asked whether she, alone, was going to judge all the food - cakes, muffins, bread, cookies, candy, etc. - she merely smiled, nodded and said, "I'll go home with a sugar buzz by the end of this."