Since then I have been both slightly terrified and more determined about this year's fair. The prospect of not winning, which in my mind would have made last year's win a wretched fluke drove me to stack the competition deck and submit 7 entries this year. I canned and canned and canned, hoping not for a blue ribbon, but for any ribbon - red, white or pink would suit me just fine.
The morning of the first day of the fair, The Chef and I were up early, continuously refreshing the Fair's canning results page. When it finally posted I was ecstatic and relieved to see I had won a blue ribbon for my Blueberry Jam. As we scrolled through the rest of the results, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw I had won a second blue ribbon for my Peach Jam. The Chef and I did a little victory dance in the living room which got the dogs barking and I couldn't help but think to myself - I might actually be good at this.
Over the years I have had varying degrees of success with the jams, fruit butters, fruit syrups, and marmalades I have canned. Fortunately I have a close group of friends that I can hand a jar of something to with the warning "this isn't that awesome but you should eat it anyway" or "this was supposed to be marmalade but now I'm calling it sauce." These friends have loyally brought the questionable items home and reported back with gratifying tales of sauce-as-cake filling, sauce-as-pancake syrup, sauce-as-ice cream topping, etc.
I still can't say I love canning - the mess, the heat, the mountains of dirty dishes - but when I'm down in the basement and see a row of jars on the shelf, waiting to be eaten, or gifted, or submitted to the Fair, I'm happy.