Princess Gracelyn woke up with a thrill of excitement. It was the day of the county fair. Today, for the first time ever, she would be judging the Best Produce category at the fair! She bounced her way to the window, throwing it out and breathing in the fresh air. The skies were clear, but the wind was cold, sending a shiver down her spine.
Two hours later, having scarfed down breakfast, Princess Gracelyn was in her carriage, heading out to the fair. She pulled her grey greatcoat around her as the wind blew in from the open windows.
“Should I close the window?” her handmaid asked, reaching for it.
“No, no. I like the air.” Her hair was tied up neatly anyway, so it wouldn’t look too messy. She hoped.
The county fair was one of her favourite events of the year. True, it wasn’t as grand as the Christmas Ball or the New Year Countdown. It wasn’t even as important as the Spring Revel or as large as the Summer Rejoicing. It was just the county fair—not even exciting enough to warrant it being spoken in Capital Letters—a small gathering of farmer folk in a tiny little county no one remembered, a minor precursor to the Harvest Reaping. But the farmers were kind and interesting. They talked to her about random things—the weather, the new lambs, Missus Opie’s bad leg, Farmer Welling’s horrible apple pie—and let her play with the kittens and lambs. And this year, she would get to judge Best Produce.
She spent time eating stews and pies and puddings, stuffing her face full while she listened to the farmer folk ramble about their day, and then it was time for the judging.
Father Potts, the unofficial leader of the county, judged the Best Pie, as usual. There was no surprise when Madam Lynette won—she won almost every year, except that time five years ago when she’d sprained a wrist and was too flustered to bake. Then there was the Best Wine, judged by Judge Joe who only drank once a year during the fair. And then it was time for Best Produce.
Princess Gracelyn stepped up nervously to the long table where all the produce had been laid out. There were apples and pears and pumpkins and raspberries and cherries and blueberries. And then there was the Grape. It was a Green Grape. It was a Ginormous Green Grape. Princess Gracelyn stared at it. The grape had been lying on the ground beside the table, as if whoever had put it there wasn’t sure if it should be entered in the competition. After all, it was such a large grape that it had looked like a watermelon at first glance. It was as big as a watermelon, after all. She struggled to pick it up, needing one of the farmers to give her a hand to lift it and place it on the table.
“I don’t think this will be a surprise… but I have to say… the winner of Best Produce this year definitely has to be whoever grew this ginormous grape,” she said, turning to look at the gathered farmers.
“Who was it submitted by?” Father Potts asked.
Princess Gracelyn looked at the gathered faces. Each one of them shook their heads.
“Is there a tag?” Judge Joe asked.
She inspected the grape but couldn’t find any tag or identifier. Several of the farmers wives helped to search the area, especially by the foot of the table where they found the grape, but no one could find any clue as to who or where the grape had come from.
“Oh dear,” Princess Gracelyn said. “What do we do now? Since we can’t find the winner?”
Judge Joe scratched his beard. “I think we will need to choose a substitute winner. Though it is a pity. This really is a great grape.”
Everyone agreed, but with no way to find out where the grape had come from, there was nothing else they could do. Princess Gracelyn looked at the forlorn produce sitting on the long table beside the grape and finally decided that the winner of the year should go to Farmer Welling’s Preppy Pear. After all, it was a really pretty pink pear.
Head over to Yuin-Y's for today's illustration.