Our Voice: Time is flying, get fair entries in soon

The Tri-Cities may be focused on hydroplane races this weekend, but there is another major community event with a deadline that is fast approaching.

The Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo is Aug. 19-23, but the deadline to turn in entry forms is only a week away. That means anyone who was thinking about showing off that beautiful photo they took while on vacation had better get cracking.

The entry forms are due Aug. 1 and must be submitted online at www.bentonfranklinfair.com. Sure, you can take a picture of that unusual gourd and post it on Facebook, but why not let people see the real thing at the fair?

Besides, you might win a ribbon and a check, which would make an even more impressive Facebook post.

Livestock entries are no longer open, but just about anything else that was made or grown by community members is welcome.

So use your imagination. If you've made a batch of yummy jam or you've painted a picture, go ahead and enter it. Maybe you are anticipating an overload of cucumbers, tomatoes or zucchini. If you enter a sample of your gardening talents, maybe you'll end up winning a few dollars, which, let's face it, might be the only thing that makes those zucchini worth your time and trouble.

Families with children who are looking for something more to do this summer ought to encourage their kids to participate. Youth entries are part of the fair every year, so let the kids make a craft, build a Lego tower, sew a pillow, grow a plant or bake some cookies and enter them in the fair.

Even if they are not part of a 4-H club, they can still participate and get a thrill when they see their creation on display.

The fair depends upon community participation, so for those who have attended every year without entering something, this is your nudge. You probably have something to offer if you just give it some thought.

The exhibitor fee is $10 and includes one entry pass to the fair. Cash prizes of more than $44,000 were paid to fair exhibitors last year. For those who don't have access to a computer or who are in need of help, the fair office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and employees there can make sure your entry form gets in.

On another note, entries also are being encouraged and accepted for the Grand Parade, which will have a different route this year because of some road construction. Check out the fair website for details about entering the parade, and plan ahead for that as well. Entry forms for the Demolition Derby and BBQ Cook-Off also are being accepted.

The fair is a wonderful place to show off all the talent and craftsmanship in the community. It relies on public participation, so don't delay. Plan to share a bit of yourself and get those entry forms in soon.