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Beyond the ribbons

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Caitlyn Griffith of Libertyville, Illinois won grand championships for her gladiola and for her cookies, a recipe handed down from her great-grandmother, while Selma’s Robert Mathews took the purple for his recycled yard art project, an owl.
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Some top winners with projects in the Mooreland Fair White Buildingthis year include, from left, Len Jacquay of New Castle, counted cross-stitch; Janet Wright of Modoc, sewn stuffed bears; Shelia Horton of Losantville, flowers; Anita Irvin of Sulphur Springs, photography and Charlene Manifold of Winchester, painting.
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Among the agriculturalchampions at the Mooreland Fair are, from left, Ed Jones of Mooreland representing his granddaughter, Carolina Pierce, 14, who gardens with him, winning for lemon cucumbers and largest cucumber; PennyGriffith of Libertyville, Illinois with her green beans and Mike Bookout of Losantville for his butternut squash.Bookout also got grand champion for pickles.

By DONNA CRONK - dcronk@thecouriertimes.com

MOORELAND — They bake and can, recycle and grow produce. They take photos, paint pictures and look forward to doing it all again next year. And they have stories to go with their ribbons.

Such is the hobby of entering exhibits in the home and family arts, art and agricultural competitions at the 80th annual Mooreland Free Fair.

Caitlyn Griffith, 11, of Libertyville, Illinois, looks forward to spending a week at Nana’s house each summer during the fair and entering projects. This year, she celebrates two grand championships — one in the flowers for her gladiola, and another for her favorite cookies, Super-Duper Chocolate Cookies. The cookies, which she makes often, are also family heirlooms, as the recipe came from her great-grandmother.

Caitlyn was delighted with how well her projects fared.

“I was amazed because I’ve never won a grand champion before,” she said. “I got really excited.”

She looks forward to the time spent each year with grandparents Jim and Nancy Griffith of Mooreland.

Little sister Penny Griffith, 41/2, entered flowers, green beans, zucchini and most-unusual apple. The green beans took the big purple ribbon.

“I like to win sometimes,” Penny said. “I like to grow the flowers.”

She also enjoys how butterflies are attracted to them.

For Len Jacquay of New Castle, there’s more of a reward involved than taking top prize, although he did that for his counted cross-stitch, a hobby he’s been at since 1987. The reason? “I gave up smoking and needed something to do with my hands ...”

Jacquay estimates he’s stitched “hundreds” of the handiwork pieces since then. His main hobby is woodworking.

The last two years he won best in show for his stitches, and this year grand champion. Still more, he’s remained smoke-free.

Shelia Horton of Losantville got a big surprise with her wildflowers entry. The arrangement of morning glories, cattails, sweet clover, willow and others were gathered from around her pond. The display caught the eye of the judge with a grand-champion award.

“This is the first time I’ve entered anything, ever,” Horton said.

While Anita Irvin of Sulphur Springs enters projects in the Henry County Open Show and the Mooreland Fair, in 20 years of submitting photos, she had never won the top prize. That is, until this year, when a photo of her dog, Franklin, took grand champion.

“I was speechless,” says Irvin. “I was elated.”

Janet Wright of Modoc has a story to go with the three fabric stuffed bears that earned her a grand championship. The bears, sure to become family heirlooms, were made from her daughter’s maternity dress that she wore while expecting her three children. The bears are going to each of the three kiddos.

Robert Mathews of Selma won grand champion for his yard art. Recycling a variety of metal objects into creations for the lawn and garden are hobbies. His owl was made with a shovel, rake, car rotors, forks and horseshoes.

Entering the Mooreland Fair is a family affair for the Mathewses. Wife Teresa turns in canned goods, including her own chili, and the couple’s daughter, son-in-law and grandson also enter such categories as photography, baked goods and crafts.

Says Teresa of entering, “It’s a good way to see other people’s goods. It promotes gardening.”

Former Mooreland resident, Charlene Manifold of Winchester, entered three acrylic paintings. Her bowl of pears won The Oleta P. Brown Memorial Award.

Manifold enters annually. “I think it’s important for the fair to have different arts to come in and enjoy.”

Ed Jones of Mooreland was on hand Thursday to represent his granddaughter Carolina Pierce’s garden entries. “She’ll come out and help work the ground, plant the seeds,” says Grandpa. 

The entries included lemon cucumbers, regular cucumbers, musk melon, tomatoes, cabbage and pumpkin. Her lemon cukes and large cucumbers took prizes in their categories. Jones says Carolina will see her winning ribbons on Saturday. Meanwhile, “Grandma sent pictures.”

Mike Bookout of Losantville took a garden-variety of goods for entries in the agricultural exhibit. The entries includes a variety basket, cucumbers, zucchini, butternut squash, tomatoes, beets and green beans.

His squash took grand champion and he also got the big purple ribbon for his pickles. He says it takes him all day to get things ready to enter, not to mention the prep work before that. When asked if he looks forward to the competition, he says, “Oh yeah, I sure do.”

He also wanted to give a big shout out to Rachel Burns who is on the agriculture committee.

“This lady does a wonderful job and deserves credit,” Bookout said.

Bookout also enjoys the prize money. It will go back into his garden hobby for next year.

“I’ve got to come over and get my seed money,” he said. “It helps.”