Creative Display: Kids’ crafts exhibited at Jefferson County Fair
While for most the Jefferson County Fair may conjure images of carnival rides, eating contests and animals, for the county’s youngest residents, the fair is a place to test their creativity.
Among the many buildings of the fair, one building houses an exhibit of youth crafts in more than 300 categories for all Jefferson County residents ages 2 to 21. From canning to jewelry and crayon drawings, holiday decorations, baking and Legos, youth can enter their homemade crafts for judging.
“It’s amazing. Everyone gets a ribbon. No matter what they enter, each child gets a ribbon, and then each ribbon is turned into a little bit of money for them. They just love it,” said Cathy Dinges, a co-superintendent.
Each entry receives a ribbon, either blue, red or white, to signify first, second or third place. A blue ribbon entry will receive $3; a red ribbon entry, $2; and a white ribbon entry, $1. Also, the grand champion entry in each category will receive a purple ribbon and a large rosette. The baking category and Lego category are judged separately since they have sponsors that distribute prizes.
This year, the youth exhibit received 2,600 entries, a number on par with previous years according to Lola Bane, co-superintendent.
Five-year-old Zack Moore entered 17 different items, each in a different category, to be judged. He crafted them every Wednesday night leading up to the fair with his grandmother, Alvyce Moore.
“It’s nice because it’s the whole youth of Jefferson County. When the kids see the ribbon on their entry, some of them scream and jump up and down. They’re ecstatic,” Bane said. “(The volunteers) love it just as much as the kids.”
Bane has been a part of the Jefferson County Fair for more than 50 years and a co-superintendent with the youth exhibit for 17 years.
Like Bane, most of the volunteers with the youth exhibit are longtime volunteers, which has created a tight-knit group of people focused on honoring county kids and youth for their creative talent and spirit.
“I tell everyone I have my family and my extended family, because these people, it’s truly like a family,” Bane said.
While the entries for the youth exhibit are completed and entered before the fair begins, many exhibits and program for youth occur during the same week the Jefferson County’s school year begins.
Scheduling the fair has been a longtime issue since it is scheduled through five-year contracts with the carnival company, said Todd Wilt, fair manager. Also, Jefferson County’s fair endeavors not to directly compete with surrounding counties’ fairs by hosting them on the same week.
“Unfortunately for a lot of our patrons and the community, it’s tough to see what goes into putting on a production this large and think that we can change (the schedule) each year to suit out needs, but there’s a variety of factors we have to consider,” Wilt said.