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Organizers applaud quality of Mooreland Fair exhibit entries

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Mooreland Fair Home & Family Arts Exhibit Director Joyce Kirby shows some of the outstanding workexhibited at this year’s fair, on display now in the White Building. She holds the fancy candy grand champion entry by Henry County resident Anita Irvin. At left is a grand champion quilt by former Mooreland resident Glenda Johnson and at right, Kirby describes Sandy Swann of New Castle’s autumn quilt as gorgeous. “It really struck my eye,” she said.
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Mooreland Fair Agricultural Exhibit Co-Chairs Brian and Nikki Koontz of Mooreland with award-winning exhibits, lemon cucumbers entered by Carolina Pierce, Terry Lee’s herbs, The Hernly Family’s corn stalk and pickling cucumbers by Lisa Hoots.
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Angie Dishman, who coordinated the Mooreland Fair art exhibit and flowers, with teenager Leigha York of New Castle’s pencil drawing of a baby which took tops in the category.

By DONNA CRONK - dcronk@thecouriertimes.com

MOORELAND — As they made their way past the commercial exhibits, the carnival rides and lemon shake-up trailer, Brian and Nikki Koontz of Mooreland headed to what may be called the heart of the Mooreland Free Fair. If not the heart, certainly the history of it, inside the Antique Pavilion.

“This is the part most historical of the Mooreland Fair,” said Brian, who chairs the agricultural exhibit with wife Nikki. “What you’re looking at goes back to our origins as Potato Day.”

Before the Mooreland Fair started 80 years ago, there was Potato Day, when folks spread tables of taters down Main Street. Brian said the event was an early inspiration for the fair Henry County people know today.

Even though the agricultural exhibit is weather-dependent, Brian found that “tables are still pretty full and I think we did have a good competition.”

One grand champion was the Hernly Family of Prairie Township which won for a single corn stalk growing the most ears – six. A category added recently is “most exotic,” which this week went to Carolina Pierce of New Castle for her lemon cucumbers. 

Another of the newer categories of herbs had a bumper crop of eight entries, which Terry Lee won.

There were many plates of cucumbers entered and for the pickling type, the purple went to Henry County resident Lisa Hoots.

Says Nikki of the ag entries, “I just think it’s neat to find that different age groups participate.”

Overseeing the art, photography, tole and flower exhibits is Angie Dishman of Mooreland, who is an artist herself.

“I just like the community,” she says of what appeals to her most about the fair. “The same people come back year after year and some new faces too. Just the total atmosphere is fun.”

In particular in the exhibits she assisted with, Dishman found, “The quality of the pencil drawings and the art have really improved.”

She was delighted by the pencil work of Leigha York of New Castle, who took grand champion in the ages 13-18 ages group. Dishman was impressed that “such a young artist could capture the picture of the baby so realistically in just pencil.”

Dishman feels that the adult and adult professional painters who return each year as well as the adults who enter pencil art “make the show.”

She says photography exhibits have improved through the years. “They’re more into the art of it, it seems,” she says, adding that photography judge Kent Kemmerling said he was impressed with many of the photos for such a small-town fair.

Art and tole judges were artists Marilyn Witt and Lucinda (Cindy) Bay. Judging flowers was Gary Webb, who Dishman describes as “very generous with gift certificates” for the top winners. “I learn more than one thing every year from him,” Dishman says.

Overall chair of the home-and-family-arts exhibits is Joyce Kirby. “I think it was very good” in quality this year, Kirby said. “We especially had a lot of food exhibits this year.”

She speaks of the adult and fancy candy grand champion, Anita Irvin of Sulphur Springs. Kirby is also wowed by two quilts entered this year including former Mooreland resident Glenda Johnson of Muncie’s quilt. Judge Janet Wright told her it is the best-made quilt she ever judged.

Sandy Swann of New Castle entered a fall-themed quilt.

“I just think that is gorgeous,” Kirby said of Swann’s handiwork. “It really struck my eye.”

The White Building, where the home-and-family-arts projects are displayed, gets a lot of traffic. Dishman has a good idea why, which is perhaps a commonly known, not-so-secret reason: it’s the only building on the grounds that’s air-conditioned. “It makes it easy to get volunteers,” she adds.