By Tracey Ruckman
FULTON COUNTY — Do you have a creative talent you’d like to share? Maybe you’re a crafter, a quilter, food artist or photographer. Open class exhibits may be the avenue you’ve been looking for to display your skill set.
“I enjoy seeing all the different exhibits come in,” stated Nancy Hudson, HHS extension educator. “Fulton County has a lot of great cooks, artists and crafters,”
Open class exhibits are made possible by the Fulton County Extension Homemakers and take place every year at the Fulton County 4-H Fair. You do not have to be in 4-H or a member of the Extension Homemakers. In fact, anyone who lives in Fulton County may enter. It’s a great way to share your talents and get to know like-minded community members.
Open class exhibits have been a staple of the Fulton County Fair for more than 40 years. Divisions include baked goods, candy or snack mix, food preservation, flowers, Christmas at the fair, photography, crocheting and knitting, quilting and arts and crafts. There is no limit to the number of divisions entered, if you’ve got food preservation skills and a talent for needle arts, you need not choose one or the other, but can enter both.
There is also a division for children ages 8 and younger. Children’s categories include: photography, cookies, single flower and crafts.
Within each division there are several categories from which to enter. For instance, the flower division categories include: fresh, dried, silk, house or garden plant arrangements, terrarium, fairy gardens and single flower. Exhibitors may enter multiple categories within the division, and may enter as many exhibits as they choose per category.
Unlike 4-H, there is no advancement to state, however there is a grand champion ribbon for each division and first, second, third, champion and reserve champion are awarded in each category. “Very rarely do I see second and third place,” remarked Hudson. “Most people end up getting blue ribbons.”
Open class exhibits are free to enter and must be checked in between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 6. Great care is taken by the Extension Homemakers to protect the exhibits.
Judging is the day of check in and begins around noon. It can take up to six hours to complete and is carried out by various artisans, extension educators and knowledgeable, reputable field professionals.
Exhibitors may not be there for judging, although many will check in the week of the fair and see how their exhibit did. Each exhibit receives a label at check in with the exhibitor’s name and category. Exhibits remain in place until Saturday, July 13, and may be picked up between 9 to 11 a.m. Hudson helps with the Saturday check in of the exhibits and has a great appreciation of the vast talent in the community.
Each year the Fulton County Extension Homemakers strive for increased participation in open class exhibits of at least 10 percent. In 2017 there were a total of 158 exhibits and 2018 rounded out to 273 exhibits. The goal for 2019 is bigger and better. There is no incentive for higher numbers; rather, it’s a reflection of the community pulling together, showing enthusiasm for their county and connecting through shared talents.
In 2018, the Extension Homemakers chose to highlight the quilting category with a special exhibit. This year’s highlighted category will be food preservation. The exhibit will feature old canning cookers, jars and other utensils along with special presentations Thursday Ladies’ Night.
For more information or questions contact, Fulton County Homemaker Extension President Ellen King at (574) 223-3397 or visit www.extension.purdue.edu/fulton.