Produce and creativity collide in the Market Display Competition in the Expo Center. Families and commercial farms compete in decorating small market stands that include a minimum of 12 different produce items. More than bragging rights are at stake; the winning entry claims $200 in prize money.
This year’s winner was Lee’s Produce from Meadow. Ellen and Marshall Lee and their daughter, Shelly Johnson, included fresh fruits and veggies and a working hydroponic pump. The display includes a variety of “living” lettuce. The Lees have sold their produce at the State Farmers Market since 1991. The farm enters several horticulture competitions at the fair.
“We try to pick out the best and bring it,” said Johnson. The display also incorporated this year’s fair theme, “Nothing Could Be Finer.” Judges commented they liked the color and diversity, and that the peppers reminded them of fair banners.
Second place went to Mary L. Maybin of Flat Rock. Judges liked the variety and the nice arrangement of color. She earned $180 for her display. Third place and $160 went to Bonnie Morris of Pittsboro. Her display included three happy scarecrows named for her grandchildren Kale, Bailey and Montgomery. This is Morris’ third year competing. “I think about it all year and how I plan to decorate,” she said.
A three-person team judges this competition. “I usually try to get judges that can look at the exhibit in different ways,” said April Blazich, horticulture superintendent. “I want a judge that can look over the displays for creativity and also judges that can evaluate the displays for quality of the fruits and vegetables.”
The Market Display competition is limited to 12 entries. Check out all the colorful results in the Expo Center from 9 a.m to 9:45 p.m. daily during the State Fair.