Natural Perspectives: Goliath makes a showing in fair competition

August 11, 2010|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • Goliath the beet is on the right. The first-place winner in the largest beet category is the monster to the left, while the third-place winner is snuggled down among the giant zucchinis.
Goliath the beet is on the right. The first-place winner… (Lou Murray )

The Orange County Fair is drawing to a close, and the last vegetable competition is over in the Farm and Garden category. Last year, I entered the competition for the largest sunflower head. Twice. Neither of my sunflowers was big enough to win a ribbon. This year, I entered the largest beet category.

I was so pleased with my large beet that I named it Goliath. It was a beet of the variety called Lutz Greenleaf, and it weighed in at a colossal 5 pounds, 4 ounces. Not bad for a beet, I thought.

I planted it in January 2009, so it was 21 months old. If it was a human baby, it would have been walking and talking by now. Of course, it wasn't a human baby, but I had nurtured it like one, watering it, weeding it and fertilizing it month after month.

Entries were due at the fairgrounds by 10 a.m., with a new competition every Tuesday. Vic accompanied me like a proud papa and took photos of me and my beet. He even phoned several of his eight siblings to tell them about our entry. We had high hopes for baby Goliath.


But after we turned our darling over to the fair volunteers, we peeped at the competition. I was shocked. Goliath was a dwarf next to a beet the size of a basketball. And another one was nearly twice as long as Goliath. My hopes for a ribbon sank. I figured that the best we could do was third place, and that would be possible only if no one else brought in a bigger beet.

We got a free fair ticket for entering the vegetable competition, but didn't really need it because we were volunteering to staff a booth last Friday for the Amigos de Bolsa Chica. The Amigos were providing personnel for the Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks booth.

As soon as we arrived on Friday, we headed over to Centennial Farm where the produce competition is held. I was really pleased to see how the competition has grown. When we first started going to the fair back in the early 1980s, the vegetable exhibit was just a selection of produce, and not a very good selection at that. We can tell by the vastly increased number of entries that there has been a resurgence in home gardening this year over years past.

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