Oh those Blue Ribbon nights


Cornfields are tall and only off-brand crayons are still available on store shelves, meaning it’s time to soak in the final days of freedom. The end of this summer is bittersweet in the Gaynor House as we prepare for kindergarten—and we’ve prepared.

You may remember our week of “exciting” doctor appointments, or how we’ve been reading together my favorite childhood books like Little House in the Big Woods and Winnie the Pooh. I’ve overscheduled pool days, playdates, and even extra scoops of ice cream, but no summer celebration would be complete without a visit to the county fair.

Is there anything better than a big county fair in a small town? Hancock County’s is consistently ranked among the best in Kentucky, and not that I’m a County Fair Connoisseur (though I’d like to be), I agree.

It’s probably the hillbilly in me that believes the makings of a romantic night include bluegrass music, a Lions Club corndog, Ferris wheels, and 500-pound pumpkins. Add in a fella who can knock over milk cans with three tries, and I’m ready to carry around a huge stuffed koala and lean in for a kiss…Wade Gaynor ;).

What makes the fair great is different for everyone. Some claim it’s the nostalgia—how hardly anything changes—that makes them special. We know and appreciate the Fair Royalty who make the best jams, grow the prettiest flowers, and eat the most pies. I love how everyone can get involved: from the fastest kid on a trike, or the most practiced penman, to those representing Kentucky’s agricultural community in the livestock competitions. But for some, and you know who you are, what’s so wonderful about a county fair is less about participation and more about, how do I say this?... It’s more about winning.

I’m talking bragging rights, folks. My brother loves to remind me of how he was a county fair “Most Beautiful Baby,” and I—ever the second child—never teetered nor tottered the stage of a baby pageant. And since then, I’ve failed to accumulate (or try for) any sort of county fair swagger… until now.

Now that I’m of age to still be dizzy from the Spinning Strawberries Scrambler, I’ve accumulated my first blue ribbon for the county’s best honey. After basking in the golden, blue-ribbon-tinted glory, we went to collect our prized honey… and it was gone! Wiley is sure the missing honey could only be the work of one well-known sticky-pawed thief: that silly ol’ Pooh Bear.

Wishing everyone—especially you mamas of kindergarteners—a wonderful beginning to the school year. And seriously, if you took the honey… that stings, but I don’t blame you… it was The Best.

Neena Gaynor is a Kentucky wife, mother, daughter and beekeeper who does life in Owensboro. She also writes on her blog at and can be reached via email at


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