Friday, August 28, 2009

HeraldTrib Today, Aug. 28, 2009

No names at the fair?...

Doug Galbi at the Ode Street Tribune, a blog in Rosslyn, noticed an odd fact at the Arlington County Fair: all the names on the competitive exhibits—e.g. the vegetables and photos—were nameless. Numbers only from August 19-23.

Photo courtesy of the Ode Street Trib. (Click to enlarge the image.)

Turns out the Arlington County Fair Board of Directors voted this year to take the names off tags for security reasons.

“Last year, a number of people expressed concern about seeing people’s names and addresses,” Denise Roller told me. She is the only paid staff person in the Arlington County Fair organization; the fair is run by the non-profit Arlington County Fair, Inc.

Given that 30,000 people perennially partake of this rite of summer, those concerned about the people's privacy were most concerned about children’s. Removing only the names of the littlest competitors proved too much, she said. “The fair is a lot of work” for the all-volunteer staff.

She reminded me a number of times that they are a volunteer organization, and as such, things can go wrong, especially when trying to communicate an idea from a board decision down to the person writing the name on the tag. They were nervous of inadvertently printing a child's name.

Plus, the tags are pre-ordered from a company that provides these sorts of items for fairs. They come with pre-printed numbers and spaces to write in names and addresses—part of the fear was it would take a lot of communication to make sure only the allowable information was put on the tags.

Oddly, even the winners did not get their names on anything official from the fair. Again, numbers only.

Ms. Roller said she hoped they would change that idea next year and give the winner a certificate, not just the nameless ribbon.

My take: put the names back on. I know it’s a lot of work (at least, I can imagine that it must be), but names with neighborhoods, it would seem to me, would be less intrusive while still letting us see who won. Figure out a way to do that.

When kids at the schools win something or other we get their names, and I always like seeing if I know the children. I have two elementary-aged children of my own, and I just do not understand the fears. I just don't see child abusers making the leap from viewing a pumpkin to stalking a child.

I wonder if it would be possible for people to fill in their own tag.

I was very happy to see Lebanese Taverna at the fair—I’d love to see more of the tastes of Arlington (while retaining at least a couple funnel cake and corn dog joints) at the fair.

Roof in Lubber Run…

Arlington County roofers John Koloszar and Jim Richards construct scaffolding on the rest room building in Lubber Run park last week. (Click to enlarge the image.)

Desperate joggers, dog-walkers, and stroller-pushing parents will have their rest room back soon. A tree had severely damaged the roof of the Lubber Run Park rest room about a month ago, making the building unusable. The roof is getting repaired and reshingled.

Time, time, time…

Well, I’m back. This was a much longer hiatus than planned, and for that I’m sorry. One of the reasons for the delay was that I’m trying to reconfigure this blog. I would like to make some money, and to write some different stories. Finding time for all of that is always the concern. In the summer there are kids (and I love getting away on vacation), but then during the school year, I have students, students, students. Finding time is the sticky wicket.

Still, I have some ideas for changes: 1, I am in the process of moving the blog from Blogger to a company called “neighborlogs.” They are out of Seattle, and their business plan aims to bring local advertising to local blogs. It’s a plan that is a long shot, but its heart is in the right place. 2, I’ve finally gotten a tag line: “News Worth Reading.” I’m thinking of it as part fact and part aspiration. The object will be to improve the stories I’m writing, maybe writing fewer but more complete stories.

That’s a couple smallish changes, and time only allows for smallish changes at one time. Many more stories coming down the line. Keep in touch.

The Week’s Headlines…
As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Police Notes, Aug. 18 to 24.
  • Police Notes, July 1 to Aug. 17

  • Labels: ,

    The ribbon that a County Fair contest winner receives has a tag with fill-in lines on its reverse side. A winner can write his or her own name and the name of the contest on these lines. A winners can fill in this tag when he or she receives it or after the fair ends.

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