SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County Fair is about more than delivering fun for area residents.
“The side benefit is that people get to see what agriculture looks like,” said Thomas Kessler, an Effingham County Fair Committee member who oversees the Individual Exhibits competition. The competition features corn, peanuts, cotton, cane, peas, hay and many other commodities — even gourds.
“I’ve had a number of people through the years come in and say ‘I didn’t know that peanuts grew in the ground or ‘I thought peanuts grew on a tree,’ ” Kessler said Aug 11 during Business After Hours, an Effingham County Chamber of Commerce event at the fairgrounds. “During the week of the fair (Oct. 13-22), I will have some cotton that you will be able to touch and feel in the boll, machine picked and delinted where we pick the seeds out of it. Then you can see the seeds and the cotton itself.
“Part of all that is to show people where our food comes from. There is nothing wrong with the grocery stores but all they do is handle it. It’s still got to be grown somewhere. That’s what we are trying to show folks — that it does come from farms.
“Grocery stores just disseminate it.”
Most of the items submitted for the Individual Exhibits competition come from farmers. Gardeners are welcome to enter items, too, however.
“We judge on the best quality or highest yield, depending on what (the category) is,” Kessler said.
Kessler said there are more than 30 categories.
“Admittedly, some years might not have something because the season didn’t allow it to be produced or whatnot but we are very open to allow a lot of things to come in even if they are not in the (Effingham County Fair) book,” Kessler said.
Some of the more unusual items include chestnuts, walnuts and pomegranites.
“Some of the things that I’ve brought in from time to time is sesame,” Kessler said. “Sesame is on a bun and we have grown it commercially in the state but there is not anybody growing it commercially much right now in Effingham County. We have grown it some on the Bulloch County side.”
Kessler said one Effingham County family grows a lot of gourds.
“They have lots of different shapes,” Kessler said, “and they have a lady who paints them to make them decorative.”
Gourds are judged in their natural state in the Individual Exhibits competition. Painted ones can be entered in the fair’s art exhibits.
“We also have a number of flowers and house plants that people bring in,” Kessler said. “If you’ve got the prettiest flower, you can get the prize for the day. There are about 10 or 12 categories for that.
“(The flowers) are in pots. They are not cut flowers. We have not gone that route yet.”
Kessler encourages anyone with a green thumb to enter their items in the fair.
“They get to share with the community what they have produced,” he said. “Still, the bigger picture for me is the people get to actually see it in its overall state.”
Fair entries will be accepted:
Oct. 9 — 2-5 p.m.
Oct. 10 — 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oct. 11 — 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Oct. 12 — 10 a.m.-5 p.m. To learn more about the fair and its various competitions, download the Effingham County Fair Book at https://effinghamfair.org.