Former 4-H’ers never outgrow the fair
EAGLE, Colorado –They may grow up, but former 4-H’ers never outgrow the Eagle County Fair.
“I’ve been working on things for this year’s fair since September,” said McCoy resident Rena Horn. “I like to see things at the fair so I enter things so other people will have something to look at.”
In Horn’s case, it will take several trips to the car to bring in everything she is exhibiting in the 2009 fair. This year she is entering peach jam, apricot/pineapple jam, grape jelly, rosehip jelly, cranberry sauce, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, dried pineapple, homemade noodles, a rag doll, two table runners, two small quilts and one king size quilt. She will also bring in items from her garden, but she hasn’t yet decided what to harvest.
Additionally, Horn’s two sons have 4-H projects for the fair. Adam, 17, is crafting a leather bull whip and Nathan, 15, has two steers to show.
Growing up in the valley, Horn was an avid 4-H member and those child lessons stuck. She doesn’t compete for the ribbons, but admits she has “a few” from former fairs.
“Part of the reason why is that 4-H background. I don’t bring something unless it is the best work I can do. That’s the 4-H training you get.”
Even after many years of competition, Horn can’t predict how a particular project will be judged. All items are evaluated anonymously by out-of-county judges. “It really is a level playing field,” Horn said.
And you never know when a particular entry will catch a judge’s eye. For instance, several years ago Horn entered her first baby quilt. However, as she was packing it up for the fair, she found battery acid had eaten a hole in the fabric.
She quickly appliqued a butterfly on the quilt and decided to hope for the best. When she returned to the exhibit hall the next day, Horn found a grand champion ribbon attached to her quilt.
This year, her favorite entry is the rosehip jelly, in part because of the enormous effort it took to make. First, Horn had to find some rosehips and that required a special day-long trip by four-wheeler. Harvesting them was also no small matter. It took around 200 rosehips to fill a cup and she needed five cups for the recipe.
“There’s a lot of work in that jelly,” she said. “I have dealt it out very sparingly. Only certain people got my rosehip jelly.”
She is also branching out into the recycled arts competition. Horn has developed a top-secret process to work with plastic bags and she plans to fashion a special project out of her creation.
The clock is now ticking to finish up her last minute projects. Last Friday Horn rolled out homemade noodles. Over the weekend she planned to complete a dress for her rag doll. Additionally, Adam needs to harvest some horsetail hairs for the tip of his bull whip and Nathan needs to get his two steers down to the fairgrounds today.
Fair week will pass with a flurry of activity for the Horn family culminating with the Junior Livestock Show on Saturday. Nathan will be selling one of his steers at the event and when they return home, the family will begin looking for a buyer for the other beef.
“We are always trying to find a buyer. Last year we put a steer on Craig’s List and sold three-quarters. The other quarter paid for part of a snowmobile,” Horn said.
Horn fondly remembers the Eagle County fair experiences of her childhood and teen years in addition to the experiences her own children have racked up. She hopes more people will take an interest in competing bring items down for the 2009 Eagle County Fair.
“The fair gets to be a family thing. You can see generational lines in 4-H and open class exhibits.”
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