Union Twp. man earns 31 ribbons for his vegetables at the Bloomsburg Fair

Oct. 3—PATTERSONVILLE — A casual conversation with a friend at the Bloomsburg Fair 19 years ago resulted in a Union Twp. man winning ribbons year after year for vegetables he grows in his backyard.

David Briggs lives on Pattersonville Road and has always had a passion for gardening. That, he said, came from his father, Calvin Briggs Sr., now 97, who said, "you have nothing to lose, it basically grows itself."

That passion and love for vegetables and gardening has blossomed, so to speak.

On Sunday, Briggs recalled attending the Bloomsburg Fair in 2003 with a friend who submitted baked items to be judged.

While at the fair and walking through the exhibits, Briggs said he was looking at the vegetable entries when his friend said, "you should enter something, yours look better than these."

"It piqued my interest," he said, adding that the rest is history.

In 2004, he submitted vegetables he grew in his modest 25-by-35-foot garden and came home with two ribbons, one for first place and the other for third place.

Taking vegetables to the fair every year since then, with the exception of 2011 and 2020 when the event was canceled, Briggs has come home with ribbons each time.

This year, Briggs' vegetables garnered him 31 ribbons, 16 for first place, 11 for second place and four for third place.

"I submitted 36 entries and 31 were winners," he said.

Inside the man's home, the walls are filled with frames containing all of the ribbons Briggs has won at the fair, 202 in all.

"I have 83 first place ribbons, 74 second place and 45 for third place," he said while proudly standing by the frames.

In his garden, Briggs grows peppers, tomatoes, kale, cabbage, squash and a host of other vegetables.

"I basically try and plant a little bit of everything to see how it grows," he said. "Some grow very well and others not so good."

Briggs said that the Thursday before the fair begins each year he goes to his garden, picks the best of the best vegetables and takes his submissions there the same day.

"It has to be that way. They (the judges) want it that way, fresh," he said.

Enter and learn

Briggs said that each year the fair is a learning experience.

He said after entries are judged, judges often write on the back of each entry card what could have been better.

This, Briggs said, he takes very seriously in preparing entries for the next year.

"I learn from the judges what was wrong," he said. "They are very particular."

Not only do his vegetables garner ribbons, Briggs said they make him a healthy eater, especially the tomatoes he grows.

"I do love my tomato sandwiches," he joked.

Briggs, who serves as a township supervisor and its roadmaster, said maintaining the garden takes time and effort but that time and effort reaps benefits.

"You can't beat something fresh picked, there's nothing better," he said.

With the 2022 fair at an end, Briggs said he is already thinking what to plant next year in preparation.

"I can only hope it will be a good growing year," he said.