Just look at what your neighbor can do | VailDaily.com

Just look at what your neighbor can do

Kathy Heicher
Kathy Heicher/Enterprise

EAGLE – You don’t have to be a Martha Stewart-type homemaker, a seamstress, or a master gardener to enter a project in the Open Class competition at the Eagle County Fair.Open Class is a competition with dozens of categories, ranging from canned green beans to garden radishes; and from hand-stitched quilts to art projects made of recycled materials. It’s for you, your kids, your neighbors, or any county residents who want to show off some of their work. “It’s just fun,” says Dee Dee Emmer of Eagle. Emmer’s got a half-dozen jars of just-canned organic apricots cooling in jars on her kitchen counter. Her pantry is filled with jars of canned fruits and vegetables – bright-red beets, sliced pears, and various jams and jellies.

She always tries to find something a bit different to enter in the fair. One year it was roasted red pepper sauce. Last year it was pickled asparagus.For the past several years, Emmer has entered both canned goods and produce from her garden in the open class competition. Her three children are in 4-H, which means the whole family is busy around fair time.At recent fairs, Emmer talked a couple of her friends – Debbie Monica and Linda Nevin – into entering the open class competition. Monica picked some flowers out of her yard – and ended up with a class champion ribbon. Nevin entered some recycled jewelry that she had made out her mother’s old jewelry pieces. She came home with a big, purple, class grand champion ribbon.There are other locals whose efforts always show up in open class. Longtime resident Gerry Olesen has a huge potato garden, and some prize-winning spuds every year. Morgan Wyrick, a high school student from Gypsum, has earned grand champion ribbons for her Greek baklava pastry for several consecutive years.

Dave and Terry Schiessl of Eagle always have entries in the gardening and canning competitions. Mary Schlegel of Burns crochets beautiful projects. Rena Horn of McCoy can be counted on for quliting and sewing projects.It’s not just about the ribbon, Emmer says. Part of the fun of the fair is strolling through the exhibit hall, checking out the talents of friends and neighbors.”I love it. You can just learn so much about people,” Emmer says.

The photo exhibit alone can reveal who has recently been on a trip to Alaska or Africa; or who caught a big fish or photographed a huge elk.Emmer has some tips for would-be open class competitors. Remember that baby quilt you sewed for your old college roommate last winter? Ask to borrow it back, to enter in the fair. Whip up a batch of those ginger cookies that your family loves, and see if you can win a blue ribbon. Dig out that cross-stitch Christmas ornament that you sewed in November.Or, just step out in your garden and harvest a few carrots, shape some garden flowers into a pretty arrangement or get the kids to enter their artwork in the children’s division.The rules and contest classes for the Open Class competition are spelled out in the contestant’s handbook, available at various businesses in the valley, or at the County Extension Office at the Eagle County Administration Building. For information, call 328-3646.

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