Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pictures of ribbon and rosette winners

Don't miss our online photo gallery of ribbon and rosette winners from this year's Fair.

As Fair folks provide them to us, we'll add them to gallery. So if you don't see your picture today, keep checking.

Find it in the photo gallery strip at

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dogging it at the fair

What is life, if not for a corndog every now and then?

I'm borrowing a phrase from George Harrison, and adapting for a more down-to-earth purpose. Although some would say corndogs can be heavenly.

There are lots of corndog choices at this year's Manatee County Fair. I stopped by Mark's Concessions and bought an armful today to share back in the newsroom.

"We mix our batter and stick our own dogs," one the concession workers told me.

Sure enough, I watched Tim Hamlin mix a batch of batter from scratch and dip a dog into the deep fryer.

At $4 a pop, one dog is a meal.

If you haven't gotten your corndog fix yet, better get moving. The fair ends Sunday.


Wallaby and kangaroo fun

I loved the kangaroo and wallaby exhibit called The Aussie Kingdom.

I had never seen a wallaby before. They’re furry and have such big feet, legs and tails.

One cage held a couple of western gray kangaroos, which can reach a height of 5 feet or 6 feet and can weigh up to 200 pounds, according to a fact sheet mounted on the pen.

“Western gray kangaroos are herbivores that feed on grasses and plants,” it said. “They are social animals that often travel in groups called ‘mobs.’ When a western gray kangaroo senses danger, it will thump the ground with its hind legs to warn the mob of danger.”

Such a touching concern for each other. Who says animals don’t have emotions?

-- Sara Kennedy

Friday, January 15, 2010

High-diving drama

Manuel Mendes, 37, of Lisbon, Portugal, is performing at the Manatee County Fair as a high-diver. During the shows produced by Water Show Productions Inc., he dives into a pool that is 10 feet deep by 26 feet across. He dives from progressively higher platforms on a tower bedecked with flags.

He and his colleague, Dana Kunze, 48, of Minneapolis, do flips and twists as they go down.

The climax of the show comes when Mendes dramatically starts to climb the tower for a dive from a 80-foot height.

He climbs slowly. The audience only sees him from the back as he goes up and up. When he finally gets to the top, he throws his flip-flops and they flutter down like little birds.

Then it is quiet as the audience waits.

He is so far up in the sky. He is concentrating. He is looking up.

He is diving, with hardly any splash.

The audience claps and leaves.

Mendes and Kunze, their wetsuits dripping, await the next show.

-- Sara Kennedy

The first Susan Keen Award recipient is ...

A button down white denim jacket with applique peacocks embroidered on the back and a peacock tail feather extending around to the front has won the first ever Susan Keen Award at the Manatee County Fair.

The award is named for Keen, a Palmetto resident who died recently after five years of service as director of arts and crafts at the fair.

The striking jacket and a T-shirt with the head of a peacock on it as part of the entry was created by machine embroidery artist Shiela Benedict, of Bradenton.

The award, which will be handed out annually, goes to the entry in the fair that demonstrates unparalleled creativity and uniqueness, said Dianna Baker, director of arts and crafts at the fair.

It's the only award in arts and crafts awarded by the arts and crafts committee, not other judges and it can be in any category, including culinary, fine arts, photography, needle and sewing arts or horticulture, Baker said.

"Shiela's work is colorful, stylish and beautifully done," Baker said.

Benedict's entry as Susan Keen Award winner will be displayed with the other Best in Show winners in the Arts and Crafts Hall during the fair, but the Keen Award gets a unique yellow ribbon, the only one given out, Baker said.

Benedict, who divides her time between Bradenton and Illinois, was excited when she learned of the honor Thursday night.

"I had never before entered anything in the fair until this year," she said.

Benedict entered 10 pieces in machine embroidery. They all can be seen at the fair.

-- Richard Dymond, Herald Staff Writer


Best in Shows:

Youth Culinary: Kelly Johnson

Adult Culinary: Sherree Bowman

Youth Photography: Brooke Gore

Youth Art: Courtney Moody

Adult Photograph: Jim Dohms

Adult Art: Bill Darra

Youth Crafts: Victoria Douglas

Adult Crafts: Jeff Maxwell

Horticulture: Josephine Bu

Special Awards

Fish & Game Award: Cindy Clenney

Paul Bartley Award: Terry McKendree

Marie Able Awards:

Jeff Maxwell

Marie Gordon

Shirley Whitman

Celia Strickler

Krista Wells

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Congratulations to the Citizen of the Year

Rodney Potter, 73, was named Distinguished Citizen of the Year today, just hours before the gates open at 5 p.m. for the official start of the 2010 Manatee County Fair.

Potter's friends and family managed to keep the honor a secret, bringing the Bradenton native to the VIP luncheon under the guise of a fundraiser.

As dozens of well-wishers rose to honor Potter under the fair's main tent, he entertained the crowd with humor and grace after humbly accepting the award.

In every nomination received for Potter, the writer noted that he was the best at dodging the spotlight for everything he has done. He was chosen for his behind-the-scenes philanthropy and charitable work, particularly with the First Baptist Church of Bradenton and the Manatee Historical Village.

Read more in Friday's edition of the Bradenton Herald.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The day has arrived!

It's Thursday, Jan. 14. The 94th edition of the Manatee County Fair is finally upon us.

Fair gates open at 5 p.m.

First night ticket prices: $4 (13 and up), $2 (children 6-12), free (5 and under). There's also the Midway Armband Special for $18.

The first big event of opening night: Swine show, 6 p.m., Mosaic Arena.

All night long, be on the look out for several strolling acts: Tall Tex, Rock-It the Robot and Ed & Geraldine Old-Time Music.

Don't miss the Robinson's Pig Paddling Porkers at the east-midway walkway at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Oh, and don't forget to enjoy the food!

Be sure to find must-know information, a downloadable Fair map, the Herald's Fair stories and more all Fair long at