EAGLE — Rena Horn has so many ribbons from the Eagle County Fair that she doesn’t even collect them any longer.
For Horn, it’s never been about the winning when it comes to entering baked goods, canned food and various craft projects. She just likes to see a bountiful display of open class exhibits at fair time and she always does her part to make sure that happens.
“Part of the enjoyment of the fair is going in and seeing all the different talents that people have,” said Horn.
Because she is so committed to the goal having a great display at fair time, Horn has volunteered as the open class superintendent for the past several years. It’s her job to line up judges and organize the displays when people bring in their exhibits.
Whatever your talent — photography, pottery, pumpkins or pie — there is likely an Eagle County Fair Open Class category to showcase your work. There are literally hundreds of options for food preparation, arts and crafts and horticulture. The complete fair handbook, which outlines all the different competition categories, is available on line at www.eaglecounty.us.
Popularity of photography
“Photography is our biggest category,” Horn said. Last year there were 212 photographs entered. The competition is divided into 18 classes — everything from portraits to landscapes.
Horn noted that it’s a level playing field for fair photography judging and amateurs should not be concerned about the stiff competition. Framing and matting is not allowed for fair submissions and all photos submitted must be 5-by-7 inches and mounted on 8-by-10 inch card stock.
“You can go out and for less than $10 you have an entry,” Horn said.
Photography isn’t the only fair categories that offers a plethora of options. Baked goods includes everything from cookies to bread.
“I would love to see more entries in the baked goods,” said Horn. “I think people don’t realize their own talents. They’re intimidated to enter their great cookies. But I think everyone has something to offer.”
She noted that after the judging is done, the entries are divided up and then sold during a bake sale. “That way everyone gets to sample what people have made.
The arts and crafts divisions are another great option at the fair, Horn said. “This year I am anticipating a surge in knitting, with the Alpaca store in Eagle,” she said.
According to Horn, some of the fair displays are delightfully unique.
“Jim Miller always brings in handmade items,” she said. “One year he made arrows with rattlesnake inlays and another year he made a quiver from coyote hide. I always wonder what he is going to bring in.”
Eagle County produce growers are a competitive group, Horn continued.
“One of my favorite times is when the gardeners come in,” she said. “They are so proud of their produce.”
Horn noted individual contestants often seem to have their own contests going. For instance, floral designers from nearby City Markets often submit arrangements with the winner getting extra bragging rights.
The weekend before fair
The deadline is fast approaching for fair open class exhibits, and Horn finds herself in the same position as many people. She is putting in extra effort to complete some projects before Monday’s deadline.
Through the years, she has learned to set aside and date her canned goods entries, and they are all ready for shipment.
“There is one spot in the pantry that not one is allowed to eat because those things are going to the fair,” she said.