It felt like a moment of triumph.
Jack White heaved the large but not freakish cabbage onto a scale in the backyard of his Boise home.
A digital number flickered on the screen: 14.6 pounds.
Thats it? said Jacks mom, Georgia White.
But it looks big, the boy said optimistically. He put the basketball-sized cabbage into a small red wagon to transport it to the family car.
The 10-year-old believes his cabbage is prize-worthy it has not split or been nibbled by bugs but hes not sure it will win top prize at the Western Idaho Fair, like his entry did last year.
Jack started growing things at 3 and hes been known to sell pumpkins, apples and corn at the corner of Hill Road and Outlook Avenue.
I put the effort into it, thats all that really matters, he said, adding later that the fair has given him and other kids many happy moments.
For Jack, his mom and his grandmother, the fair is akin to a holiday. They look forward to it. They plan for it. They immerse themselves in it.
We just love it, Georgia White said.
But her husband, Steve, opts out of the festivities.
I told my husband this is my elk hunt, she said.
The 45-year-old floral business owner takes a whole week off work to focus on preparing her fair entries about 35 in all, everything from okra to pear butter.
Next year I need two weeks, she said Tuesday afternoon before heading off to the fairgrounds.
FAIR FAVORITES, OLD AND NEW
Fair managers aim to offer something for everyone when the fair opens at noon Friday, and there is a smorgasbord of entertainment.
Where else can you learn about animal husbandry, pet a baby goat, see comedian/singer Weird Al Yankovic, ride a ferris wheel and eat a Famous Idaho Ice Cream Potato all in the same hour?
And save time this year to check out the shark tank. Yes, sharks the kind that normally live in the ocean.
If you enjoyed the Knights of the Realm last year (armor-clad men jousting on horseback), you will be happy to hear theyre back.
Many kids enjoy the fair rides, but Jack White rated watching pig races and lumberjack contests among his favorite things.
They carved a rabbit out of wood with a chainsaw, he recalled.
CANNING CAME FIRST
Georgia White said she really got into the fair as an adult after learning how to can fruit and jams about 15 years ago.
She took classes through the University of Idaho Extension to master canning. While entering her canned items at the fair, she discovered numerous other special contests.
Soon, she was hooked.
Every day, theres a different contest, she said, listing a few, such as best salsa, best ice cream and top milkshake.
On Tuesday, she showed off a jam-filled gift basket she designed for the fair. That night, the family made animals out of potatoes for the Mr. Potatohead Contest. (Rule: Everything has to come from the garden, except toothpicks.)
Georgia and I have a real competitive nature, said Donna Bonds, Georgias mom.
The 76-year-old grew up in Parma participating in 4-H Club. She recalls showing heifers at the fair each year in Caldwell.
Bonds came up with an original recipe using caramelized onion that won her a first-place ribbon at last years fair (it was something she called German pizza).
She won about $400 in prize money last year, Georgia won about $350 and Jack won about $165.
Georgia White, who owns Boise at Its Best floral shop, doesnt enter floral categories. But this year shes sponsoring a contest called Iron Arranger, modeled after the Food Networks popular Iron Chef showdowns.
Jack said he comes up with ideas for fair entries when he gets bored while waiting for his mom at her shop. He made a white swan-themed birdhouse out of a gourd last year.
His entries this year will include a bracelet made out of parachute cord and a special concoction for best milkshake.
His first attempt to make a great milkshake caramel apple didnt work out.
It didnt taste very good, he said. Hes now considering German chocolate cake flavor, but confesses, Im still thinking.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413