The Alameda County Fair pt 2

One of my favorite things to do at the Alameda Country Fair is to visit the Gem and Minerals/Hobby Building.  Despite the name of the building, there are very few gems. You can buy some gems/beads in one corner, you can see a few displays of precious, and semi precious stones, even some great bead work but most of the building houses hobby collections.

When you walk in there are rows of display cases. In those display cases are every kind of collection you can think of. It is fun to walk through and see what it is that people are passionate about.  One can see everything from Matchbook collections to Disney Characters to the typical decorative spoon collections and everything in between.   Some of the displays can bring backs memories, such as the displays of memorabilia from days gone by. Album covers of a certain artist, the Beatles album covers was fun to see.

Doll Collection

A panel judges the collections. The ribbons are based on originality, display and the information about the collection provided within the display, as there is a nod to education within the judging.  There is a box at one end of the building where fair goers can write down what they think of the display, did they learn anything etc and the comments also weigh in on the judging.

Plate Collection

I happen to collect Rhinoceroses. It is a hobby that got started with the reading of the book Rhinoceros Success by SCOTT ROBERT ALEXANDER. A really great book that is easy to read and makes sense. In order to remind myself of the principles laid out in the book I got myself a cute little rhinoceros necklace. I guess I talked so much about that I received a small rhino figure as a gift. And it was on. I currently have a large collection, Even though I am fussy and insist that my Rhino’s look like Rhinos and not pigs with a horn on its nose.  So, I decided to go ahead and enter my collection into the fair.

Blue Ribbon


I requested the entry from, sat down, filled it out and sent it in. I honestly did not think I would be awarded a spot as the building is very full and it seems as if most of the displays are there year after year with only a few new ones. But, Lo and behold, I was accepted.

I spent a lot of time figuring out the logistics of the display.  Having decided that I would include “fun and interesting” facts about rhinos I painted about 40 little wood rhino shapes and then inked the facts on them. They went around the sides and back of the display. The day before the fair opened I worked for several hours to place each Rhino in just the right spot, making sure the whole display made sense and looked ,what I thought, was fabulous.


Since one gets a fair pass when you have an entry I went to the fair that year more than I have ever before, checking on my collection, listening to the people talk. I was a bit obsessive actually. I had high hopes of winning a ribbon.  It was not to be.

At the end of the fair, I went to collect my stuff. No ribbon. There was an envelope attached to the display box that had my scoring according to the judges and the slips of paper that people had submitted in regards to my display. I scored high in originality scored ok in other categories. What killed me was I scored low in presentation. The judges didn’t like it. Sigh. A consolation prize for me though was reading the viewers comments. If nothing else, many children said they learned something about rhinos. That I liked.

The Rhino that started it all


I have not entered anything else into the fair. Not really because I was discouraged but mostly because it was more work than I thought it would. I still love going into the building. I love seeing the collections and I always say something nice about the new collections because, well, I understand.


Alameda County Fair pt 1 here