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Fair open show highlights community skills

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Jane Pidgeon of New Castle looks over the jacket she entered in the recycling category of the Henry County Open Show at the 4-H fair. She won a blue ribbon for her efforts.
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Heritage House Rehabilitation Center of New Castle Life Enrichment Coordinator Shari Waltman shows several ribbon-bearing projects submitted

By DONNA CRONK - dcronk@thecouriertimes.com

Jane Pidgeon loves to sew. As a result, she has a stash of fabric. So she gave herself a goal: “I like to challenge myself to use up what I have,” she says. 

To that end, her efforts at cleverly recycling blue jean fabric with a bedsheet liner into a jacket have been rewarded with a blue ribbon at this year’s Henry County Open Show. The show continues on display through noon today in the Smith Building.

Pidgeon also made her own buttons and the back of the jacket includes decorative embroidery work down the spine.

She says there is a Japanese proverb that says one should not throw out any piece of fabric in which you can wrap three beans.

She recommends that others enter the annual show, as well. “It’s fun to see what people do. Many people are so creative,” says Pidgeon.

Pidgeon’s recycling project was among about 70 entries in the open show from among 33 community-adult participants, according to Melody Bowman, who chaired the annual project coordinated by the Henry County Extension Homemakers. She said this year’s display contains “a pretty good variety,” including three quilts and a stuffed bear made by offenders at the New Castle Correctional Facility from donated fabrics. Bowman was impressed by their work.

Representing Heritage House Rehabilitation in New Castle, is life enrichment coordinator Shari Waltman of New Castle. Waltman encourages residents to make items throughout the year that could be entered in the annual open show. She then brings the project in for entry and brings the ribbons back to Heritage House.

There, the staff put on a recognition ceremony and introduce the residents and their work and ribbons. When asked if they get excited about entering their creations, Waltman says, “Oh, yes, very excited.”

She brought for entry: a patriotic wreath by Marge Grant; pictures by Rick Kirk, Marge Grant and Debbie Medford; a scarf by Dee Hartman and handmade jewelry by Margaret Jesse.

Waltman said residents look forward to the competition every year. “It’s neat to come in and see everybody else’s creations and the creativity of others in your community.”

Anita Irvin of Sulphur Springs is a member of Young Moderns Extension Homemakers Club. She’s been in the open show for about 20 years. But this year, she got her first grand championship in the show with her candy entry, White Chocolate Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge. She said of it, “I’ve already had requests,” and expects that it will become a family favorite as well as show up on the Christmas table.

“I was a 10-year 4-H member,” says Irvin. “I think the 4-H’er is still in me ...”

She also entered cookies, photography, basketry and a quilted pillow.

“It’s just fun,” she says. “Competition is fun. Extension Homemakers is an awesome organization and so is 4-H.”

A club member of Irvin’s, Mary Murray of Mooreland, has entered the open show since it started. She entered several items in the sewing category this summer. There was a book bag with a place for an e-reader, a patriotic table topper, a Disney-themed handbag with matching accessories and a wristlet. Not only does Murray sew for pleasure, but she also has a small business using her skills doing alterations and sewing for people. She says the event organizers make entering an easy process.

“It’s just nice to take part in community things,” says Murray. “I just like to be involved.”

She also thinks the open show is a way to show creativity and give other people ideas. She says of her Young Moderns Club, “We have a lot of people that are creative in our club.”

More photos not shown in the daily newspaper will appear in the upcoming 4-H Fair wrap-up special later this summer.