Third place in a one-horse race?

Holy Henrik Ibsen, Batman... that's a first place ribbon!!!!
Is that the correct ribbon for my artwork?

On Saturday, I drove to Syracuse to pick up my award-winning creation The Cathedral of St. Philco, and the blue ribbon attached thereto.  It was a bright spot in what has turned to be a dim Competition Season 2016, with my entries (outside of Altamont) receiving rejection throughout.

But hey, I got a big blue ribbon for first place, I did…

Or did I?

Last month, when I attended the New York State Fair, I was extremely excited that The Cathedral of St. Philco picked up a ribbon.  It was the only one of my entries to earn a silk in Syracuse, and when I asked the organizer about the judge’s comments on the piece, she told me that the judge thought it was “well-imagined” and “vibrant.”  I’ll take that any day.

And last Saturday, when I picked up The Cathedral of St. Philco from Syracuse, I was eager to read the judge’s notes that were taped to the back of my artwork’s attached entry card.  I couldn’t see the notes during the Fair, as my piece (like all the entries in the Arts and Crafts Division) was located behind a protective barrier.

When I finally read the judge’s notes on Saturday, I got a surprise.

The judge’s notes….

Read like this.

Well imagined, but would have liked to see better execution – knobs on front, etc.  Some rough edges in glasswork.  Color overall was a broad range, so piece is vibrant, but would have liked more details on the interior.  3rd place.”

Third place?  But third place is a white ribbon, not a big beautiful blue that was attached to my artwork.

Don’t mistake me – I appreciate earning a ribbon for this artwork, no matter what color it comes in.  But… perhaps there was a last-minute adjustment from the judges, maybe they had a reconsideration and moved my piece up the rankings against all the others.  That might be why there’s a blue ribbon there.

One way to find out.

After the Fair, each division posts its results online.  And on page thirteen of the Arts and Crafts results page…

I saw two things from this year’s dollhouse competition.

The records show that I did receive third place for my efforts…

And that I was the only person who entered a dollhouse at the New York State Fair that year.  So either the judge ranked the piece individually, in that it earned enough judging points to be a third-place artwork … or I came in third to two non-existent entries.  Owtch.

So now there’s a question.

Did I receive a third-place score … but was bumped up to first place because no one else entered?

Did I claim “best of section” by default?  Or did I receive a blue ribbon by mistake?

Yeah, I’m still running through these scenarios in my mind.  And they still bother me, every single one.

There’s only one way to find out.

I need to wait until I receive my premium money from the Fair.  In the category I entered, first place in the dollhouse category receives a $25 prize; third place receives a $15 prize.

That’s really going to be the determining factor at this point.

Wouldn’t you know it.

The Fair’s over, and I still don’t truly know how well my artwork did.

(UPDATE, 9:53 am)  I spoke with the New York State Fair Art and Home Center, and they confirmed that The Cathedral of St. Philco was to have earned a third-place ribbon.  The Arts and Crafts competitions are based on a point system rather than an “A is better than B” system.  With that in mind, I only earned enough points to receive third place for my first-ever dollhouse construct.  They are shipping a white ribbon for third place to me immediately, and they thanked me for my honesty in reporting the error.

And tonight, I’ll ship the first place ribbon back to the State Fair Art and Home Center.

As I said before, it’s not fair for me to keep a championship silk that I didn’t honestly earn.


5 thoughts on “Third place in a one-horse race?”

    1. I’m not thinking it was rigged; I’m leaning toward either an honest mistake or I received the blue ribbon because it technically was the best – albeit only – dollhouse entered in the category. So my point is that if the judge ranked it on points and I earned enough to claim third place, then I should get the third-place ribbon. I don’t deserve to receive what I didn’t honestly earn.


  1. You are creating good cosmic Karma for the next round of competitions. 🙂

    Still, a very impressive piece of work, Chuck. You should be very proud. Perhaps if there had been other entries it would have earned more points by virtue of comparison. Judging is very subjective!


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