Central States Fair! We love it!

It is the last fun family event before school starts. A committee of gardeners will be preparing for exhibits of vegetables and flowers in the round, gloriously air-conditioned Horticulture building.

Everyone is encouraged to enter the most beautiful and best from your gardens from 4-7 p.m. on Aug. 15 and 8-noon on Aug. 16. The exhibits will be closed to the public during judging and open to the public beginning on Saturday. If exhibiting at the fair is a new venture, stop at the fair office and pick up the fair book for exhibitors and get an exhibitor number.

On Thursday and Friday, Aug. 23-4, there are afternoon garden talks in the Horticulture building. These are free, fun and informative. Here is what to expect.

On Thursday at 1 p.m.: JoAnn Paulson will speak about “Growing Perennials for Season Long Color.” Her suggestions will help the gardener have a changing palette of colors from early spring well into autumn. Not only is that a treat to the eyes of the gardener, it is an invitation to butterflies and bees to visit.

At 2 p.m.: Mary Deibert will speak about making the ever-popular fairy gardens. These are not only fun to make, they are a good solution for people with limited gardening space.

LeAnn Feuillerat, the Master Gardeners’ current artistic wizard-in-residence, will speak at 3 p.m. about making art objects for the garden. Her work is a major part of the door prizes and silent auctions events at the annual Spring Fever.

If your fruit trees and vines have brought in a bounty this summer, Joe Hillberry will tell you how to make wine at 4 p.m.

On Friday, Aug. 24, people gardening questions can drop in to the Horticulture building to ask questions, identify plants or insects (in a zipper plastic bag).

At 1 p.m.: LeRoy Draine will be showing the most simple and inexpensive way to make a rain barrel. He also will be suggesting various strategies for wise water collection and use based on his several decades of managing rain barrels. The barrel will be given away as a door prize.

At 2 p.m.: I will speak about in-ground succulents and how and where they can be used in the garden.

One of the concerns that faces all life-long gardeners is how to keep on gardening when age brings weakness or limits activities in the garden. Lissa Marotz has suggestions and the tools (many of them inexpensive and/or homemade) that will make gardening easier. She speaks at 3 p.m.

And the frosting on the cake … or at least the sauerkraut on the dish … happens at 4 p.m. when Tammy Glover and Sheila Hillberry demonstrate how to make sauerkraut.

The day ends with another time slot for Ask a Master Gardener … more questions, more plant identity, most unidentified insects.

Plan to come to the Horticulture building for the afternoon talks. There is much to learn and good times to be had. And of course, the talks are free.

See you at the fair!

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Cathie Draine is a South Dakota Cooperative Extension Master Gardener and a member of the Garden Writers Association. She lives and gardens in Whispering Pines. Contact her at blackhillsgarden.com.

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