We took a 2nd, 3rd, and a 5th place ribbon at this year’s Kentucky State Fair. Although we did not take home a blue ribbon, this was the first year we have competed in any produce competition. We are completely blown away by the success of our peppers.
Small Hot Pepper Collection: 5th Place – In particular, our small hot pepper collection placing was truly flattering. Not only were there the most entries in this open category, we had never entered before and the rules were not very well spelled out. In one section, the rules said all peppers would be displayed on a white paper plate provided by the fair. Ah, but those rule do not apply to collections. Additional confusion was that there was no guidance for what a “small hot pepper” was. So we stuck with peppers smaller than our other entries.
Many of the other entrants had very elaborate displays with name tags for each pepper variety. Despite this, we took fifth place & want to give credit where credit is due. While it has been judged and jiggled by the time this photo was taken, the original arrangement was done by our 13 year old daughter Aubreyahna. Peppers included in the display were Trinidad Golden Bean, Popcorn Habanero, Red Sav, and Red Datil. Now that we know the rules a bit better, we hope to place much better next year. But still, placing at all was more than flattering.
Hot Pepper Yellow: 2nd Place – Taking second place for Hot Pepper Yellow category was also wildly flattering. Mainly because our peppers were still on the green side and the lighting in the room really brought that out. It is a habit I will have to break for future competitions if I am going to take home the blue ribbons. Because the majority of our patrons order our peppers by mail, I try to pick just a wee bit before they are ripe. Three or four days in the US Post office usually gives them the extra time to change full color. This way, patrons receive the freshest possible peppers. The competition is judged either the same day or next morning. So we will be bringing absolutely ripe peppers next year.
The other reason I am flattered by taking second place is that this variety and most Aji peppers are fairly unknown outside of most dedicated growers. The Aji Finlandia is from where you would think: Finland. Its not exactly a common banana pepper. My wife and I were not sure if the lesser known peppers could place. To our surprise, they certainly can.
Red Pepper Hot: 3rd Place – From the barely known Aji in the yellow category to the very talked about Carolina Reaper in the red hot pepper category. Again, knowing what the judges were looking for is key. The two red pepper entries that placed higher were both deep, deep, red. Some Carolina Reapers will reach that color, but in my opinion they are very close to being over ripe when they do. Again, I have to switch from PBM mode to being judged the same or next day mode.
While incredibly proud of our first competitive effort, we consider this first year to be a fun learning experience. Many thanks to the Kentucky State Fair for hosting the competition, to the other entrants for providing the fun of the competition, and to you ( our patrons ) for letting us do what we love.
Ashley, a friend of the family and farm, was visiting the Kentucky State fair today. It is Saturday, August 19th. So our peppers have been sitting for four days. They still look good. The Carolina Reaper have taken on a richer red appearance. Many thanks to Ashley for the photos. By watching peppers go from fresh to rot, I am learning a great deal for next year. I see that each year when I select peppers for seed stock. Best to harvest seeds when they are over ripe. But I have never taken pictures or otherwise tried to keep track of the process. This is great!