Riley County 4-H members aim to grow biggest beet

By Gregg Eyestone

With the Riley County Fair just around the corner, here’s some information on this year’s gardening- related activities and how you can have the best chance at receiving a purple ribbon.

In this year’s biggest vegetable contest, 4-H members will be competing to see who grew the biggest beet. Beet seeds were available for 4-H members to see who can grow the heaviest one. Come to the Riley County fair in CiCo Park July 24 through July 28 to see the winner.

You are invited to be part of the fair by bringing your own entries. Read the exhibit criteria in the fair book at m.

Gardening and flower exhibits need to be brought to Pottorf Hall in CiCo Park between 8 a.m. and noon on July 24. Exhibits are released beginning at 5 p.m. on July 28.

Vegetable exhibits are judged on five criteria. The judge looks at the exhibit’s condition, quality, uniformity, typical of variety and size. Unless it is a class for the biggest specimen, size should conform to market demands.

The two most important criteria are condition and quality. Everyone would choose produce that was in good condition that is clean and without any bruises. Quality indicates that the specimen is ready to eat. Overripe is not desirable.

Uniformity and typical of variety are the other criteria. Attractiveness of an exhibit is enhanced when all specimens are similar in size, shape and color. Avoid using unusual specimens for exhibits. Flowers are judged mainly on the quality of bloom. It should be just peaking at full bloom. Cleanliness is also important. Give your specimen a bath before you enter it.

The flower container is part of the exhibit but you don’t generally want to draw attention to it. It should be clean, plain and around one third of the height of the overall exhibit. Remove any leaves that would normally be in the container.

I hope your garden has some purple ribbon specimens for the fair. Contact the Extension office for the publications ‘Exhibiting Fruits and Vegetables’ and ‘Preparing Cut Flowers for Exhibit.’ It is also available on the web at

There is a lot to see and do at the fair, including carnival rides, the rodeo, music and the Riley County Idol contest. A complete list of activities can be found at the fair website, www.rileycountyfair. com.

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