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It’s pure enjoyment for Jefferson County Fair volunteers

By Staff | Aug 23, 2019

Youth Department co-superintendent Lola Bane, left, is shown with granddaughter, Lauren Murphy, daughter Loretta Jones and great-grandchild Arlie Murphy, outside of the youth building on Monday evening. Toni Milbourne

KEARNEYSVILLE — When one thinks of the county fair, one often thinks of competitions. There are many types of contests held each year, including those where the recipients gather ribbons and trophies to mark their accomplishments.

Children work throughout the year to create up to 20 exhibits each, to enter into various categories. Those involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America raise animals and/or complete project books, with the goal of entry into fair competition.

On Saturday, exhibitors brought their completed projects and animals to the fair. Volunteers at the fairgrounds spend all day registering each craft project, 4-H book, photograph and animal into the proper category for judges to come and determine which item receives which color ribbon.

Those volunteers are the backbone of the Jefferson County Fair, serving year-after-year as building or department superintendents and assistants.

For 21-year Youth Department co-superintendent Lola Bane, fair week is “fun” and a family affair, going back to 1965, when it was held at Shenandoah Downs.

A quilt expressing the quilter's love of guitars won a first prize ribbon at this year's Jefferson County Fair. Toni Milbourne

“We have three children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren,” Bane said. “They have all been raised at the fair and everyone has exhibited at the fair.”

“We have 2,047 entries this year. Last year we had 2,005, so we are up a little bit,” Bane said, mentioning when she took the lead role 21 years ago, there were around 125 entries.

About 60 volunteers come into the Youth Department every year, to collect the items and make sure each entrant’s name is on the item, but not visible to judges. Once the items are arranged on tables and shelves, judges come to award the ribbons.

“Each child is judged by the Danish System,” Bane said, meaning they are judged on their own work, not in competition with another child’s work.

Two buildings down from the Youth Department, visitors can find adult handicrafts under the watchful eye of 10-year Adult Department superintendent Kaye Mood.

“It’s so nice to see the talent people have,” Mood said.

Echoing those thoughts was Kathy Blue, who has served for 15 years as superintendent of needlecrafts in the adult categories.

“It’s so nice to see what people can do and the talents they want to share,” Blue said. “I was one of the first exhibitors at these fairgrounds. My sewing hung in here in this building.”

“[W]hether it’s a 4-H child, a parent or a friend or family member, the excitement they show for the ribbon they or their friend or child received makes it worth the work,” Blue said.

Blue said that the enthusiasm hasn’t dimmed and people continue to look forward to entering their exhibits every year.

“There have been more people new to Jefferson County exhibit this year than before,” Blue said.