In table setting contests, whimsical designs would pass all etiquette tests – Orange County Register

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Ready, put, at the table! Crystal Young, in her second year of competing in the OC Fairground dressage competition, walked out Tuesday with a “Best of Show” ribbon and a $ 150 prize – a repeat of her freshman result.

A relatively rare hobby, table setting competitions – or as one participant put it, “table design” – involves a combination of creativity and etiquette.

  • Crystal Young won the “Best of Show” for her table. It entered under the theme “Free Your Inner Farmer”. His painting focuses on “how to bring agriculture into your life”. (Photo by Lilly Nguyen, staff)

  • Michele Pribble, from Santa Ana, adjusts the cutlery on her table on the theme of “Back in time”. Her table is inspired by the 1980 movie “Somewhere in Time” (Photo by Lilly Nguyen, staff)

  • Janet Lew of Laguna Hills won “Best of Show” for the first round of the table setting competitions. She measures the distance of her cutlery and cutlery to the table with a tape measure for her entry into the second round of competitions. (Photo by Lilly Nguyen, staff)

  • Kurtis O’Connor is a first-time attendee of Tustin. He adjusts a skull presented as the centerpiece on his table for the theme “In The Sand”. (Photo by Lilly Nguyen, staff)

  • Katie Hart, of Huntington Beach, adds faux pearl strings to her “In The Sand” themed table. (Photo by Lilly Nguyen, staff)

  • Melody Ponce is a first-time participant from Ontario. She prepares her table in the “Free your inner farmer” category. (Photo by Lilly Nguyen, staff)

  • Competitors bring their supplies to the Promenade building as they enter the Table and Flower Dressing Competition at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Contestant Crystal Young and her starter, “Good Food = Good Mood” entered the Table and Flower Dressing Contest at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Contestant Rita Kwasnick and her starter, “Rogers Jolly Galley Feast” entered the Table and Flower Dressing Contest at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Detail of a decoration entered in the competition for table services and flowers at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Janet Lew works on her screen as contestants enter the Table and Flower Dressing Competition at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Crystal Young, a resident of San Dimas, won the “Best of Show” award with her “Free Your Inner Farmer” themed table. She poses for a photo behind her table. (Photo by Lilly Nguyen, staff)

  • Contestant Cheryl Von der Hellen and her starter, “Cape Cod Crab Fest” entered the Table Dressing and Flower Contest at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Hilarie Moore, a resident of Orange, adjusts her plastic centerpiece for her table in the “In The Sand” theme. She won in her thematic division. (Photo by Lilly Nguyen, staff)

  • Detail of a decoration entered in the competition for table services and flowers at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Contestant Lindsey Williams, right, watches her exhibit as Kelly Teenor, who is behind the USO entrance, also looks at Williams’ entrance as she enters the table and flower dressing competition at the fair OC on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Contestant Janet Lew and her entry, “Palace of the First Thai Princess” entered the OC Fair’s Dressage and Flower Decorating Competition on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Contestant Michele Pribble and her entry, “Somewhere In Time” entered the Table and Flower Dressing Contest at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. Pribble has been in the competition 11 times and always won something she said. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Bonfa Anabella, from Irvine, adjusts her centerpiece for her table in the “Back in time” theme. His table is inspired by the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Photo by Lilly Nguyen, staff)

  • Detail of a decoration entered in the competition for table services and flowers at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Contestant Katie Hart and her entry, “A Mermaids Harvest” entered the Table and Flower Dressing Contest at the OC Fair on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. Hart entered intermittently five times. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Contestant Kurtis O’Connor and his skull entry for the OC Fairground Table Decorating and Flower Contest on Tuesday July 31, 2018 in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

Everything, from the decor to the placement of the silverware, is scrutinized by the judges. Participants also design a menu to match their table display.

On the day entries are due, contestants have three hours to set up their displays – at this point, their measuring tapes and rulers are the most important tools, ensuring perfect placement of silverware and dinnerware.

Young, who calls herself a “party planner by heart”, participated under the theme of the fair, “Free Your Inner Farmer”. Other choices were “In the sand” and “Go back in time”.

“Free your inner farmer. What is that? It can be so many things. So I went with so many things, ”said Young, a San Dimas resident. “I went with row crops and vertical farming and all the different ways you can make farming part of your life or just farming in general. “

Planning a table setting takes months for many designers; they browse thrift stores, looking for antiques and unique pieces to decorate their tables.

Michele Pribble, of Santa Ana, whose table was based on the 1980 film “Somewhere in Time”, said she brought a lamp from an antique store and a peach lace tablecloth from the UK on eBay in an attempt to match the film’s 1912 setting.

Katie Hart, of Huntington Beach, spent about two and a half months carving an octopus for her centerpiece.

Some spend hundreds on decorations, others rummage through their own belongings or even their neighbors’ garbage.

Hilarie Moore, six-time Orange attendee and winner of that fair, said she had asked her neighbors to sift through their recycling bins for plastic bottles and soda rings so she could use them in his display criticizing the abundance of plastic that ends up in the ocean. She said her table took about three weeks to design, but added that it was one of the easiest and “conventional” tables she had created.

Last year, she designed the “Marie-Antoinette Tea Party,” but added that she showcased anything from taxidermy animals to freeze-dried mice in displays.

“It was really fun. It’s artistic,” Moore said. “It gives you a chance to dream a bit. Everyone has a different outlook.

Many designers are frequent competitors.

“When I first saw the table dressing competition, it was so weird for me,” Moore said. “I was like, ‘What kind of person does a table dressage competition?’ My daughter and I used to joke about doing it and then a year later I said “I’ll do it”. So I did.

And now she is “addicted”.

“For me, it’s kind of cathartic to just hang out in the garage and stick things and spray paint and not watch the news,” Moore said. “There are so many bad things going on in the world. It’s kind of like a little escape.


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