Despite tough summer, Bart Padgett proves to be winner

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Kentucky State Fair

By Stephen Thomas

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Bart Padgett is your garden variety Kentucky State Fair blue ribbon winner. Literally.

Padgett received five ribbons from this year's state fair competitions for entries grown in his Shepherdsville home garden.

A Rineyville native, Padgett grew up on a farm, the son of farming parents Joe and Margo. He moved to Shepherdsville in 2006 when he married his wife, Katina, a Bullitt County native.

Despite moving into the woods, Padgett found the space to create a garden, tended to with his own hands and his 25 years of experience raising vegetables and produce.

"I had to take some trees out and keep some deer out," he said. "I've got about three acres."

Encouraged by Katina and her parents, Padgett made his first state fair entries in 2009. He has earned ribbons each year, 15 overall, with a total of seven in 2011. His first blue ribbon came in 2012.

"It has been a tough year in the garden for many due to the drought, heat and then heavy rains," Padgett said. "I grew more stuff but I didn't enter everything I signed up for."

A total of thirteen 2012 entries garnered a total of five ribbons, including the blue ribbon for cucumbers - slicing type. Padgett also earned second place in cucumbers - pickling type.

"This was the first year I grew cucumbers with a metal fence trellis," he said. "It's the best I've ever had them. You have to know when to pick them. Some people let them grow too big. You pick them at six inches when they still have bumps."

Other ribbons included second place for brussel sprouts and fourth place for yellow squash, along with a third-place ribbon for best collection of vegetables, an artistic display of various vegetables grown by the participant.

"I get different things every year," said Padgett. "It's based on creativity and artistic display. My first year I just used vegetables, but you see what other people do. I added straw and a scarecrow. It has to do with vegetables but it really has to do with the whole display."

Padgett met many other farmers and gardeners during the competition. He said some competitors take it more serious than others.

"Some just plant and pick, and then they wonder why (the vegetable) doesn't do so good," he said. "They don't weed or water. It's like life, you've gotta be present for every day, not just the beginning and the end."

With 15 ribbons collected in four years, Padgett's family and friends continue to support his success. He'll look at next year, but not quite yet.

"When I'm done I kind of feel like a prize fighter," he said. "It's hard work. My wife, who is also my biggest supporter, has already encouraged me to expand my garden for next year. Looks like I have my work cut out for me."