Saturday 18th August 2018

Thank you to The WI (National Federation of Women’s Institutes) Chair Lynne Stubbings for opening our Centenary Craft & Produce Show today. Over 400 entries show what a talented bunch WI ladies really are!

Well done to each and every member who entered.

Here are some comments and tips for future entries from the judges

Thank you so much for inviting me to judge at the Warwickshire Federation Centenary Show. I felt it was a great privilege to be asked. The show itself looked magnificent, well laid out and full of variety. Also it was so well organised for stewards and the excellent hospitality, for which many thanks.

There was a good variety of classes and the inclusion of co-operative classes was a joy. They are a rarity in village shows so it was lovely to see them in your County show. The standard of bakery entries in those classes was excellent, so appropriate for a centenary tea, and would have graced any classy tea room.

The novice class of 5 tray bake slices was of an exceptionally high standard, well presented and delicious. Your decorated cake was most elegant, and the winning cake using vegetables was so good, really capturing the chocolate and beetroot combination. The two loaf entries were truly artisan and the winning cheese scones were very tasty, well cooked and of the correct shape. There was some confusion about type of cutter to be used. It is of course plain for savoury scones and fluted for sweet ones. There was a tendency to over bake the scones, like bread they sound hollow when cooked. Also they should be almost as tall as round and the bottoms should be as smooth as the tops.

I was rather concerned about the cherry cake recipe, I felt it needed some extra flavouring, either lemon rind or preferably almond essence. The cooking times were rather generous and this did produce a high percentage of dry cakes. However I did get a clear winner, who produced a pleasing result and a good second and third. All good textures and cherry distribution.

There were issues with the other set recipe for Hob Nobs, in that it was rather vague with no indication of yield or consistency. The results were very mixed, however I still had some worthy winners.
I had a really enjoyable, interesting and challenging time judging. I do hope the afternoon was a great success and thank you so much again for involving me in your terrific show.

With every good wish for the rest of your centenary year
Yours Sincerely
Bridget P.

Thank you for inviting me to judge the preserves section of your Federation’s centenary show. It was a wonderful well supported event. The refreshments were delicious although after all the mornings tastings I did not need much lunch and certainly no dessert.

The majority of the preserves were well presented and with the appropriate new twist lids. The fruit jellies were very good and exhibitor number 2’s was delicious. All 3 of the cordials were superb and it was just a point between them all. The 11 raspberry jams were pleasing with the exception of one exhibit which was in a honey jar and the seal failed to preserve the jam. It was good to see so many really tasty marmalades and exhibit no 92 was gorgeous. The liqueur class provided me with a problem of definition and “On with the Show” didn’t really help me. I have since spoken to Jill Brand who has clarified the point for me and for future reference the gins are considered to be liqueurs if fruit and sugar are added to the gin and allowed to infuse for at least 3 months, thus fortifying the gin. All the exhibits in this class were superb and exhibit no 60 was stunning. I finished the judging with the chutneys, most of which had a full recipe supplied, others just a list of the ingredients. Most had full robust flavours and only one was almost too hot to handle!

Again, thank you for inviting me to judge at your centenary show, it was an honour.

Yours sincerely
Judy A.

Warwickshire Centenary Celebration Show, August 2018
Some thoughts from the Craft, Staging and Interpretation Judge.

The schedule certainly presented plenty of challenges for members to demonstrate their expertise and imagination and it was great to see so many entries from both novices and those with years of experience. There really was something for everyone who was looking to take part and it was in that spirit that I approached the task of finding the winners.
Section 3, Class 20 Cooperative
This section was entitled Jewels in the Crown, an apt theme for jars of richly coloured preserves, I thought. Since it was only to be judged on the staging and interpretation, here was a chance to present the “jewels” and show them elegantly. The title suggests crystal and shiny metals rather than wood and gingham and my tip for next time is to read the schedule carefully; in this case, “to be viewed from the front” and be sure to design your entry to best effect. As always with a staged exhibit, try to group the items in a way that links them and don’t be afraid to vary the height.

Section 3, Class 30 Cooperative, Tea for Two: Staging and Interpretation
The dilemma was whether to “lay the table” for tea, or to make a display of the teatime components and both approaches were here and well thought through. The entries where the table had been laid formally were good, though in both cases the tabletop was crowded and space was at a premium. Here’s an opportunity to use a little colour and a flair for styling – is it to be an elegant, traditional tea or a more homely occasion? Choose accessories accordingly and make sure the story is consistent, gleaning styling ideas from magazines perhaps. Well done for choosing teatime favourites as the cookery items – trying to be “different” isn’t always a good idea.

Section 4, Craft “Our Heritage”:
Each one of the classes in this section was well supported with a collection of attractive entries which surely impressed the visitors as much as they impressed the judges. The novice knitting class was great, with a range of interesting designs and the beadwork, collage, lace and papercraft entries were similarly attractive and of a high standard. I’m sure bookfolding intrigued many members and the entries in that class in particular were imaginative and well executed. The applique cushion class was a close run thing, with a range of techniques on show – there is something very satisfying about a collection of well-made cushions, isn’t there? Almost as satisfying is the ability and vision to restore something and return it to its former beauty or to use what you have and recycle materials imaginatively – it was especially good to see traditional skills in use here. Finally, the scarecrows – wow! What fun! This class was all about the spirit of the concept rather than the “fine craftsmanship” and the characters who greeted us in the conservatory were spectacular. Bravo to those who created them and thank you for providing such a talking point!
Class 39 Show What You Have Made.
The answer was, quite a lot! In a large class like this, it’s always going to be difficult to find the winner but thankfully, as you’d expect, NFWI Judges have a system based on the advice offered in the handbook On with the Show (available online at MyWI) Each entry was judged on its own merit, with marks awarded for the design, the choice of materials, techniques and skills involved and the presentation. As you can imagine, this was quite a lengthy process and I’m sorry there simply wasn’t time to leave comments on each entry as I’d have liked.
I began by taking a general look along the whole table, to get a feel for the treasures on show. I then started work at one end of the table and judged each item in turn, taking each one to get a better look and get a measure on what had gone into the making of each entry. I awarded marks for skilful use of colour and great design, for a wise choice of materials and the degree of difficulty. It’s good to reward ambition – yes, it’s good to see something simple and perfect, but what about those who challenge themselves to raise their game for a competition like this? Finally, I awarded marks for the presentation – a couple of marks which can make all the difference. Well done for remembering to finish the loose ends, for polishing the glass in your frame and for doing that last minute check for forgotten pins and pencil marks!
At this point, I had about a dozen high scoring entries; potential winners. I looked again at each one, a little more closely this time to decide which of them was deserving of the accolade. It was the smallest points that separated them now – might that corner have been more neatly stitched? Yes, that embroidery is lovely, but this one had a wider variety of more technically challenging stitches worked to a consistent, even tension. The winning exhibit showed a wide range of skills, each one requiring a great deal of practice and planning – it was precise, exquisitely finished and beautifully presented. A worthy winner indeed. Second place went to a small but charming character, again beautifully made and showing a great deal of skill and tenacity. Often, success comes as a result of keeping going and not giving up until everything is spot on – another entry with full marks. Third place went to the framed embroidery worked in a range of stitches and the challenge of a limited colour palette. Not only was it beautifully stitched, it was exquisitely finished and presented – a fine example of work. I awarded the remaining entries on my shortlist a “Highly Commended”. Thank you all for entering your lovely work, for allowing me the privilege of being able to take a close look at it and inviting me to offer my congratulations and encouragement to keep going.

A reminder that many tips and advice for competitors of all levels of experience can be found in the same NFWI handbook used by the Judges: On with the Show. It can be viewed or downloaded from MyWI here

Thank you so much for inviting me to join in the fun. I loved every minute!

Gill T
Gloucestershire Federation.

Thank you for inviting me to judge the floral art class at your Centenary Show. I thought the standard of exhibits was excellent, there are obviously some keen flower arrangers among your members and everyone is to be commended for entering.
Just a few general observations. It is most important to use plant material that is fresh, pristine and well conditioned. It has been a difficult summer for gardeners, evidenced by the predominance of bought flowers, but whatever the source do make sure you pick the choicest specimen to do justice to your design and if you really do have to cut an end hide it from the judge! Likewise do your best to obscure the mechanics, especially important in a table arrangement where the diner might be sitting right in front of that foam and tape.
Do read the schedule and make the best use of the space allowed, there were some last minute entries this year which meant space was tight but next time the show committee will be prepared and so should you- so fill that space to best effect!
I trust the afternoon was a huge success and everyone enjoyed the amazing array of WI talent on display in the Hall.

With very best wishes for your Centenary year
Sue W