Friday, August 28, 2009
Win, Place, and Show
Yesterday afternoon before we rushed to catch our flight to Seattle, Beth, my parents, and I visited the Alaska State Fair. We were on a bit of a mission, since Beth, our daughter Megan, and I all had something entered in the one or another of the craft exhibits there. Our daughter is a graphic artist and her entries usually place well in the fair. This year was no exception, and she received a first place ribbon in the watercolor category. Beth is our resident quilter; however she has never taken the opportunity to enter any of her quilts. She did this year and received a second place ribbon for her effort (Fall’s Finery). I am a home brewer. Two years ago, when there was little competition, I placed quite well in the Ales category. This year I only managed a third place ribbon for my ‘Black Porter’.
The Alaska State Fair takes place in Palmer, Alaska and this year it runs from August 27 until Labor Day (September 7). It has been annual event in this rural community ever since the days of the development of the Matanuska Valley Colony during the New Deal era of the 1930s. Like most county fairs, the Alaska State Fair features all kinds of fun, food, and entertainment. One event that captures the attention of most Fair goers is the giant vegetable weigh-off. The Matanuska Valley is noted for its giant vegetables, more especially its giant cabbages. These cold climate crops do well in Alaska, but it wasn’t until the entry of the Dinkle family in this annual competition that things really took off. Dr. Don Dinkle (past Master of Matanuska Lodge No. 7), while professor of agriculture at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, was contacted by his brother in Palmer and asked how he might beat the competition at the State Fair. Don suggested a particular variety of cabbage called the OS Cross and outlined a method of hydrating and fertilizing these giants during the growing process. Today, there are many other growers who have tried their hand at growing large vegetables, however the Dinkles usually give them stiff competition.
Alaskan Freemasonry, too has had a presence at the Alaska State Fair for many years. The Rite Care Booth sponsored by the Scottish Rite Masons does a land office business selling soft serve ice cream and shakes in one half of their booth and fish and chips on the other half. Proceeds from this booth go to support their Rite Care Childhood Language Program. For many years the Mat-Su Shrine Club (Al Aska Shrine Temple) has maintained a food booth near the equestrian stables. Proceeds from this booth go to support the Shrines Orthopedic and Burn Care Hospitals. About five years ago, the Alaska Masonic Families group took over the operation of the Matanuska Masonic Temple Fair Booth and run it as a Masonic information center. Masons from across the country and around the world as well as those who are curious about our fraternity stop into this booth for some hospitality and information about Freemasonry.
If you find yourself in Palmer between now and September 7, come on down to the Fair and stop and support Freemasonry in action.