Sugar gliders, turnips and photos of Fiji
EAGLE ” In 21 years of coordinating exhibits at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, Mary Jo Gerard has seen some pretty cool stuff come and go.
Between 4-H kids and their projects, longtime locals, and first-timers, there is always something new and creative popping up, she said.
What she loves to see pop up most are all the familiar faces. “It’s nice to see everyone each year,” said Gerard, a fourth generation 4-Her. “It’s always fun, especially with the stuff the kids bring in.”
Gerard ” who has a hello for everyone who comes and goes ” wasn’t disappointed this year, as faces new and old streamed in to the Exhibit Hall on Monday and Tuesday.
“I don’t know the final numbers, but we are definitely up this year,” she said.
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Among the Eagle Countians dropping off wares was Mike Lederhause, on a trip in from Burns and McCoy. He was a courier of sorts.
“I didn’t make anything; I’m just dropping stuff off for my wife (Edith) and my neighbor (Mary Schlegel),” said Lederhause. “The ladies put a lot of hard work into this stuff each year. They have been doing it off and on for quite a while.”
Some of the items he brought in for his wife and neighbor were a Raggedy-Ann and Raggedy Andy doll; pillows and quilts; Christmas wreaths; scarves; and bunnies made from handkerchiefs.
Right behind Lederhause, came local artist Holly Roof. She entered an oil painting and a woodcarving in the professional class. Her daughter, Bethany, had come to set up 4-H projects for her and her brother, Ben.
“I made tie-dye shorts with my sewing teacher Annie (Breckheimer),” said Bethany. “For shooting club, I showed how to get ready to shoot a bow and arrow.”
Amateur photographer and professional woodworker, Tim O’Brien, had photos to enter in the exhibit. When he found out there was a professional class for woodworking, he ran home to get some more stuff.
“This is my first time entering photos,” said O’Brien, who owns Shamrock Fine Woodworking. “I had some good travel photos from Fiji and Latin America, mostly. Some were above water, and some below. They came out pretty well.”
Mary Schlegel came in to enter some cookies, raspberries and turnips. While there, she was greeted by granddaughter, Jacey Schlegel, 9, and grandson Taylor Hammond, 11. They were escorted by Jacey’s mom, and Mary’s daughter-in-law, Sherry, to make for three generations of Schlegels in the exhibit hall.
“Grandma has done 4-H for years,” said Taylor, who was entering a 4-H leatherworking project. “True,” said grandma, who is the first of three generations of Schlegel 4-Hers. Now she stops by to help out the kids.
“It’s all about them now,” said Mary.
Hammond also had steers, pigs and lambs for Saturday’s junior livestock auction. Cousin Jacey had crocheted a poncho and had two pigs for the auction.
“The kids buy their (livestock), and pay for the feed,” Sherry said. “When they sell the pig, they get to keep whatever is leftover for the bank.”
The hustle and bustle on Tuesday morning was caused by the approaching deadline for 4-H and Open Class exhibits to the competition.
The Open Class has 26 different divisions, each with four different categories ” children, youth, adult, and professional.
Among the 26 divisions listed in the Contestants’ Handbook, are horticulture, vegetables, jellies and jams, pickles, cakes and pastries, clothing, quilts, photography, art, and a new addition this year: educational exhibits.
“A parent of some home-schooled kids asked us if we could have this new education exhibit,” said Glenda Wentworth, the 4-H family and consumer science extension agent. “It’s not just for home-schoolers, though. It gives all the kids a chance to show off the things they are learning and the projects they do each year.”
The 4-H kids also participate in interviews with the judges to explain their work. Kiefer Kaufman, a 10-year-old second-year 4-Her, had plenty of explaining to do.
“I did a sugar glider display, because we have two sugar gliders at home,” said Kiefer.
Sugar what? Sugar gliders, as Kiefer’s exhibit shows, are nocturnal marsupials, akin to a flying squirrel. Since Kaufman is too young to show live animals, he had pictures and a stuffed animal in a cage to show what his friendly pets from down-under look like.
Kiefer’s mom, Sally, was trying her luck in the photography contest. “I’m a complete amateur,” she said.
Kim Olsen, and daughter Vickie, got their veggies and flowers in right on time Tuesday morning. The two brought dill, carrots, beans, peas, zucchini (for the Largest Zucchini contest), marigolds, pansies, daisies and peppers.
Vickie Olsen also had two cages set up to display her cats as part of a 4-H project.
After all the exhibits were in Tuesday morning, the judges began their work. The format is closed judging, and Gerard sees to it that no unauthorized exhibitors or spectators are present during the process.
“Basically they are looking for uniformity, and how each flower or plant has bloomed,” said Gerard of the horticulture judges.
The doors of the exhibit hall re-opened on Wednesday, and will remain open through the duration of the fair.
Asked if she’ll be back for a 22nd year, Gerard smiles and said “yes,” quickly. Then she’s off to answer a question, or say hello to an old friend.