Saturday, August 20, 2016

A childhood dream realized! I'm doin' the Puyallup!

Like a lot of people who grew up in western Washington, I see the Puyallup Fair as an annual tradition. And, no, I don't care that it's been renamed the Washington State Fair. It's simply THE Fair to me.

I try to go every year, and I love it every time. I love seeing the biggest dairy cow, the biggest bull, and the biggest pumpkin; voting for the best grange display; eating food on sticks; watching the hucksters (to whom I mean no disrespect with that label!) selling their wares; cheering at the draft horse show; and trying to decide if *this* is the year when we'll finally buy that wooden sign for our house. Oh, and the people watching.

And I love the Hobby Hall. Every year I walk through it thinking, "some day I'll submit one of my collections" ... but I never do. Until now.

I submitted my paperwork not long before the deadline; first completing an online application, then sending in photos of my collection... And then I waited. And then I got THE LETTER!!!

And then there was panic. I had been assigned a "medium case", dimensions approximately 4 feet high by 6 feet wide. OMG, would I have enough medals to fill it? 

I pulled all of the medals off the picture rail in my office, and lay them down on the floor ... 

Well, yes, I *do* appear to have enough medals. And then some. But then the problem of how to display them? I pretty quickly came up with the idea to have some wooden supports with hooks in them, with curtain rods resting on the hooks. I realized the structure would be even stronger -- and allow for a better "tiered" display if I leaned it back on the wall ... and then I realized that I didn't need a "back" and "feet" ... I could use the case itself to support the display.

I used my 9th-grade geometry skills (Mrs. Nixon, I know you were smiling down on me!) to sketch out the support, figure out the length of the hypotenuse (yeah!), and the correct angles so that the boards would lean evenly against the back wall and the floor. A trip to Home Depot with some precarious lumber hauling, some help from Eric and his Very Big Saw, and I had the support boards ready to paint.

if you look closely, the boards say STUD
A lick of black paint later, and it was time to get the hooks on. I decided just to put one coat of paint on the boards, which left them with a "stained" look that I liked.

Okay, the "getting the hooks on" part was ... rough. Our ancient drill seems to have finally given up the ghost, so there was a night-time trip to Home Depot to buy another drill, some cursing, and such ... but I did get them on, along with some anchor brackets on the feet, and then tried it out on a wall in our bedroom. Woot!

Honestly, I can't tell you how satisfying this was!

Then yesterday I loaded up my car with tools, the boards and rods, a bunch of fabric for a background, and a whole lotta medals and drove down to Puyallup. I was super nervous and excited ... when the security guard met me at the gate, I could barely explain what I was doing there and why. I'm guessing he's seen it all before. I got a parking pass and was told to just drive around to the Hobby Hall.

I parked across the "road" from the Hobby Hall, trying to stay out of the way because I knew I would be there more than an hour.

The Hobby Hall ladies welcomed me with a smile -- gave me my paperwork and two one-day passes to the Fair (a nice surprise!) and showed me to my case, #38.

First I staple-gunned fabric to each side and just around both back corners. I cut the fabric a little longer than I needed to so that I would have some overlap on the bottom.

I then installed the support pieces, quickly bolting them to the floor and installing the top hook on each one (which, because of the length of the screws, actually was bolted to the back wall too). The side supports were just a little way from the side walls to allow for room on the rods, and I just drilled through the fabric.

Then I staple-gunned the fabric to the back in two sections, overlapping it around the center support. I left the fabric long so that I could drape it on the bottom of the case and cover the brackets. I seriously can't tell you how relieved I am that it all worked and looked nice and clean.

The case next to mine (playing cards) was partially decorated when I came in, but there was no one else who came in to set up their cases until midday on my side.

Then it was time to start hanging up the medals. I had some some rough organization at home, just for a sense of what should go where, and had decided that the first two rows should be my runDisney medals. What's funny is that, as I was working, the Hobby Hall ladies would come by to check in, see how it was going, whether I needed any help, etc., and one of them told me later that she thought my collection was of Disney stuff. Well, looking at the top row, I can see why!

I had decided that rather than try to hide the ribbons, I would just use them as added color on the background. So each medal is pinned by its ribbon and hangs off the rod.

The two runDisney rows done, I turned to my Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series medals -- apparently I had enough not to need to feature multiple "Heavy Medals" (earned for running two or more events during a year) ... in fact, I wasn't able to display either of the new series of Heavy Medals. And since RnR medals tend to be a little smaller than the honkin' runDisney medals, I was able to "stagger" them a bit and put more of them on the row.

Then I decided to display some "unique" medals, such as my two glass medals (Wineglass Half and Center of the Nation Full Series medals), my wooden medals (Oak Barrel Half, Lakefair Half, Grandpa's Half Bone, Grandpa's Wish Bone, and Run Like the Wind Half), the funny painted metal  medal from Hartford Half; our Mainly Marathons series medals; the massive Sage Rat Run medals, and then some other fun ones (Beat the Blerch, Valley of the Trolls, Inca Trail, Caribbean Running Cruise, Chips 'n' Salsa).

On the fifth row I decided to feature a bunch of my "50 States Challenge" medals, in no particular order ... along with a few from Seattle.

And then in the sixth and final row, a bunch of other race medals, mostly from Seattle. Phew!

Then came the big decision ... do I keep it simple, like this? Maybe add in my Half Fanatics and Double Agent shirts? Or do I add some of my race bibs?  In the end, I went for adding a bunch of my favorite race bibs, along with my HF and DA shirts. Originally I tried safety pinning the bibs to the fabric on the sides, but that was too difficult, so I pulled out my handy staple gun again and just attached them that way.

And that, my friends, is my medal display. Gaudy? Oh yes.

The Puyallup Fair .... okay, Washington State Fair ... runs from September 2 - 25 (closed Tuesdays). The Hobby Hall doesn't need to be your first stop -- by all means, get scones or a crusty pup first -- but do swing by and check out all the quirky collections.


  1. Wow, can I vote by proxy? It think you should win, but then I am a tad biased.πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ