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The Kentucky State Fair opened its gates Thursday with a strong presence of Shelby Countians to share in the excitement.
One resident in particular, beekeeper Lani Basberg, was really hyped about winning first place for the first time for her dark amber honey.
“I have been coming here, working at the honey booth, just like I am today, for six years, and this is the first time I have ever entered my honey, and I won a blue ribbon!” said Basberg, who lives on Burks Branch Road.
Basberg, also with her husband, Jens, maintains two beehives on top of the Kentucky Home Life Building in downtown Louisville, where a rooftop green space is located. The location is a study to see how native plants do in an urban environment, a project they have been involved in since last fall.
Basberg said her honey has won ribbons at the state fair, but it was by her granddaughter, Ally Ormsby, 8, of Louisville.
“It’s always more fun to see a child win it, but this time was exciting for me, too,” she said.
Shelby County Extension Agent Regina Browning, who spent the day at the fairgrounds at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, said the number of Shelby County 4-H entries are up a bit from last year.
“Our numbers are up this year, so we’re really excited about that,” she said. “I’m here at the country ham contest today, and we had twenty-one kids doing country hams. The results are being tabulated for that right now. We have entries in all the livestock categories, rabbits, poultry, cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, all that.”
There’s something for everyone at the fair, with everything from cooking contests to dog showsto art exhibits and talent shows – and of course the battle among the elite of Saddlebreds at the World Championship Horse Show.
The number of items entered by the public is as diverse as the musical entertainment, with everyone from Hank Williams Jr. to classic artists such as the Turtles, the Grass Roots and even former Monkee Micky Dolenz putting in appearances.
Browning said the 4-Hers who have prepared country ham exhibits are really up for the contest this year.
“The children have gotten all the hams ready, and they have to present them, with a speech to the judges,” she said. “We have also taken up several food items, like cakes, applebread, and that sort of thing. And there’s tobacco and hay as well.”
Finchville Farms is also hoping to bring home another blue ribbon this year for its cured country ham, and beekeeper Pat Hornback, who is on the board of directors for the Shelby County Beekeepers Association, said that even though she does not have any honey entered this year, she knows of several Shelby Countians who have entered some very tasty honey, including Rebecca Collier, who won first place for her honey last year.
“I won first place at the Shelby County Fair, but I do not have honey entered at the state level,” Hornback said.
Vivian Lisby said her niece and nephew had entered some livestock again, and Jeanne Kemper, famous around the county for many delicious recipes and arts and crafts, will probably will be out at the fair for most of its run, chasing blue ribbons for everything from country ham to pies and candy to pickles and chili sauce, if last year is any indication. She could not be reached for comment, as she was, of course, at the fairgrounds.
New horticulture extension agent Walt Reichert was also at the fair.
“He’s in charge of the rabbit show,” extension agent Alicia Cooper said.
Rabbits and other small farm animals are no novelty to Walt “Chicken Man” Reichert, who is sure to have a rooster or hen or two entered as well.
Larger animals are poplar entries with Shelby Countians as well, particularly horses.
Beth Snider, administrative assistance for the Shelbyville Horse Show, said she thinks many of those who participated in the horse show this year had their sights on the World’s Champion Horse Show at the fair.
“I think most of them were planning on participating,” she said.
Shelby County farms, horses, trainers and riders typically dominate the show ring throughout the week, leading up to the world championship finals on Aug. 25.
Kentucky State Fair
When:Today through Aug. 26
Horse show:Sunday through Aug. 19-25
Where:Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville
Hours:Gates open at 7 a.m.; exhibit buildings open at 9 a.m.
Thrillway hours:Today through Monday, noon opening; Tuesday-Thursday, 2 p.m.; Friday-Aug. 26, noon.
Admission prices:Adults, $8 advance and $10 at gate; children (3-12) and seniors (55 and older), $4-$6.
Parking:$8 charge per car.
On the Web:Visit www.kystatefair.org, like the fair on Facebook, or follow on Twitter @kystatefair.