St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Polk County Fair--Buttering up the Judge

 We spent the morning today rushing to finish the baked goods, butter, maple syrup candy and other entries for the 2013 Polk County Fair.  Entry day was today.  

The historic red school house is cleaned, postered, and filled with the appropriate amount of junk (historic artifacts some would say) to be ready for the public.  The Cushing group, Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society is hosting it this year with Margo and me heavily involved.  

Friday at 10 am is maple syrup judging.  Chuck Adleman, Norman Anderson and I will judge 14 entries this year to choose the three top syrup samples. 

Margo wanted to stay around for the butter judging at 7 pm tonight.  She, her sister-in-law Connie, and Connie's kids and spouses are usually the only home made butter entries.  

Youngest brother, Byron, started the competition by taking butter to the fair.  Mom and he competed each year.  After he died in a motorcycle-deer accident in 2002, the rest of us got into the competition, really in memory of him and his county fair involvement (he was on the board).  

So, while she was waiting for the judge to show up a few minutes before 7, I wandered off and struck up a conversation with a friend who I know through the County historical Society, Carl Johnson from the Amery area.  We both are interested in local history. 

Pretty soon he said "I need to get over to the butter area--I've been judging it for several years now.   I used to be a buttermaker at the Volga creamery and up until 3 years ago was a field man for F&A Dairy in Dresser.  They asked me to judge butter for the fair."

I followed him over to where Margo was waiting, and introduced her, and told him about the family competition.  

He did the judging and Margo learned a few new things:
   --her outrageously expensive butter dish with the cut glass cow carved into the cover made no difference at all--only taste and color mattered. 
Margo watches Carl taste each sample of butter--worried that a fly might land on hers.  He lines them up as he judges, best better, good, OK, less OK etc. 
   --if butter has beads of moisture on the top, not good as that means the butter was not worked enough to get it out

Buttering up the judge didn't help!
   --butter should be 2% salt by weight--quite a bit of salt!
   --Carl tastes the butter, then spits it out and drinks cold water to cleanse his pallet 
Carl didn't notice Margo's fancy butter dish with a cow embossed on the top--gift from brother Everett--Blue ribbon went to a lowly plastic bowl
   --you can't butter up Carl--he judges it as he tastes and sees it!
Tomorrow this walkway will be teaming with people
The fair was quiet--although the Bone Lake Lutheran church had a few takers for Tuna Salad Potato Chip Hot Dish with Jello Salad