Cornucopia of field crops, flowers, produce on display

Published 12:47 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Janet Spencer, extension agent for Isle of Wight County, examines a cantaloupe with Ben Francis. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Janet Spencer, extension agent for Isle of Wight County, examines a cantaloupe with Ben Francis. — Cain Madden | Tidewater News

COURTLAND—A feature of any county fair is for people to show off the fruits and vegetables of their labors from their fields and gardens.

At the fairgrounds on Tuesday, residents from Southampton County and the city of Franklin brought in corn, cotton, figs, flowers, peas, peppers, persimmons, tomatoes, walnuts – yes, walnuts – and watermelons.

All this was for the annual Field Crops, Horticulture, Flowers and Plants exhibition, which will be displayed today, Aug. 14, through the rest of the fair, which concludes Saturday, Aug. 17.

Members of the extension offices from Southampton and Isle of Wight counties accepted the entries. Volunteers registered the people and their crops, flowers and produce.

Already several adults had received blue, red and white ribbons. Young people got $3, $2 and $1 respectively for their first, second and third places.

Kreig O’Bryant of Capron was in with his children, Kullen, 2, and Kaylee, 5. They brought with them sunflowers, colossus peas, cow horn peppers, banana peppers, cayenne peppers, sweet bell peppers, long yard green beans and even a pumpkin or two.

Kreig said he first began competing in 2003.

“Usually they’ve been watermelons and pumpkins, but mostly they’ve been drowned by the rains this year,” he said, adding that he had a cantaloupe weigh in at 45 pounds back in 2003 or ’04. Then there was that 186-pound watermelon a year or so later.

With son Jake, 2, in one arm and a paper sack in another, Brandy Francis of Newsoms delivered cantaloupes and Crowder peas. Ben, 6, also helped with the deliveries.

Although the boys’ father doesn’t farm, Francis said she comes from a farm family. Her father was Davis Bryant, and her grandfather, Raymond Bryant.

“We do it for them,” Francis said as she looked at her sons. “Hopefully, they’ll love gardening and growing things.”

Another entrant who clearly enjoys cultivating a garden is Briggs Simmons. Along with his parents, Tommy and Kathy Simmons of Sandy Run Farms in Courtland, they brought in several armfuls of limelight hydrangeas, persimmons, walnuts and tomatoes, two of which had grown together. Briggs said he could have entered five other products, including grapes.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years, since I learned how to do things,” said Briggs, 14. “I set up an underground water irrigation system from a well in case of dry weather.”