At the Minnesota State Fair, it seems there are judged contests for just about everything. And for Charlie Pesch, that was sweet news. Pesch, who is the proprietor of Big Dipper Honey in Minneota, entered one of his honey comb frames at the state fair and came away with a fourth-place finish out of 11 contestants.
He earned a pink ribbon and a modest cash prize for his efforts in the Class 17 Extracting Frame category. Pesch also learned that there are numerous categories he could enter next year at the state fair involving his honey products.
"They have about 30 different categories for honey products, like honey cookies and brownies," said Pesch. "I'm planning to enter my regular honey and my cinnamon honey next year."
At the home of his parents, J.D. and Paula Pesch, on the west side of Minneota, Charlie is the owner/operator of "Big Dipper Bee Company".
His father originally started the apiary four years ago as a hobby and called it "7P's Bees" to reflect the seven members of the family. J.D. initially started out with two hives and eventually expanded to six last year.
This year, Charlie's first taking over the main operation, there are 60 hives in five locations between Ghent and Taunton.
Charlie has slowly been harvesting the honey as he has time between his other jobs.
"I picked out what I thought was the best frame to enter in the state fair," he said. "The thicker it is, the more honey it has. So I tried to pick the thickest one I had."
Pesch dropped off the extracting frame before the state fair began, and then found out the results of his category when he searched the state fair website.
Participants did not need to be present during the judging. Judging was based on a point system in five areas: Preparation (clean and neat frame), 25 points; Capping Quality (clean wax with no broken or open cells), 25 points; Comb Quality (full, even cells), 25 points; Honey Quality (uniform, light color), 20 points; and Weight, 5 points.
Pesch has been selling his honey at the Minneota Farmer's Market from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday evenings on the west parking lot at Veterans Park, as well as from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday's in Marshall at the Farmer's Market co-sponsored by the YMCA and Schwan's behind Casey's on Highway 68.
Big Dipper Honey will also be on sale during the Lac qui Parle County Fair in Madison from Sept. 5-8, and on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Craft and Vendor Show during Boxelder Bug Days in Minneota.