By JILL BARTLE
With all that’s wrong in the world, one thing I thought we could all count on was honesty and fair play here on our island home. I’ve given some thought to whether, in the interest of keeping the peace, I should just keep quiet. But honour is at stake and I can no longer remain silent.
September’s Fall Fair, as always, featured many competitions that showcased the talent and hard work of the various artists, cooks, farmers and zucchini racers that call this place home. I’m always interested to see who has gone above and beyond with their Scotch eggs, knitted dusters and Lego masterpieces and, as always, there was splendid work to admire.
I spent some time amongst the displays, then wandered my way over past the pie line-up (still too long) and found myself in front of a pen in which a group of people stood around while another fellow shouted rules for the benefit of competitors and spectators. “What’s this?” I thought. “It’s an animal pen, but there are no pigs or calves to be seen.” I was curious and hung around to see what was going on.
The competitors took turns standing and looking thoughtful for a moment whilst (I gather) girding their loins. Then they would emit strangling, shrieking noises, at the same time walking in a manner one could only call silly. It gradually dawned on me . . . they were being roosters! Fabulous! What fun.
The big moment came when one particular competitor, none other than island crowing superstar Dulcy Wilson, took her turn. She stood. She focused. Then, loins girded, she began.
The woman vanished and was replaced by a staring, head-bobbing, strutting apparition. This creature took a deep breath and the most breathtaking, astonishing cry rent the air. We all gazed around, wondering where the rooster was! Okay, maybe not, but it was amazing and no doubt woke anyone up who hadn’t yet. This was the very epitome of roosteriness and the response of the audience (ostensibly part of the judging process) confirmed that this competitor left everyone else scratching in the dust. She was a shoe-in (despite the fact that roosters don’t wear shoes).
But no . . . supposedly the judge was not so easily convinced. (Poppycock, I thought.) He declared it was a tie, and had a crow-off between two competitors — Dulcy and another hopeful. But the resulting offerings left no doubt, either from the performances or the thunderous applause for Dulcy. Then it happened: the judge said, indicating Dulcy, “Well, you see, she’s won it before . . .” and gave the honours to the other competitor.
Well! My feathers were ruffled, I assure you. What a cock-up. No winning because you’d won before? What kind of decision is that? Is that what they said to Canada’s hockey teams at the Olympics? I have to tell you that, for me, the integrity of Salt Spring Fall Fair judging in its entirety has been thrown into question. Who’s to say which blackberry jam was actually the best? Was the judge influenced by past triumphs? Can we really believe in anything anymore?
Say what you will . . . integrity matters. From the youngest toddler entering their crayon drawing to the most elderly craftsperson, we’ve done our best in front of our neighbours and enjoy our fairly won ribbons.
And when it comes to the Fall Fair Rooster Crowing Contest, no one comes close to Dulcy.