The Arizona State Fair opened this weekend complete with a ferris wheel and a myriad of deep-fried foods on a stick. No matter how old I get or how many times I’ve gone to the fair, it’s still exciting to hear the gates are opening once again. Bring on the livestock shows, fast-spinning rides, and homemade fudge that makes my mouth water just thinking about it! However, my favorite part of the fair happens inside the exhibition halls as my family has had a long tradition of competing for ribbons in the Arts and Crafts shows.
I’ll be the first to say my family is a talented bunch. My mom makes amazing wreathes, ceramics, and mop dolls, while my sister is the ultimate paper crafter and gives Mom a run for her money in ceramics. Grandpa constructs amazing model trains and Grandma sews quilts so beautiful it feels like a crime to touch them. As for me, I do everything from sewing, paper crafts, cross stitch, quilting, and felt applique. The fair always gives everyone a project and a reason to try something new. No matter the category, it’s all about that blue ribbon or better still, the coveted rosette.
Over the years, I’ve collected a number of ribbons for various projects and with the fair opening this week I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic. The fair always brings out the best in my family not only in terms of artistry, but in creating strong connections and wonderful memories.
It took some doing, but I managed to track down some of my previous projects. Many of my projects are given as gifts or even disassembled for spare parts, but I do keep track of what wins on the back of each ribbon. They have pesky rules about entering a project more than once, so its important to remember what’s been entered and when!
When I was very young, my Grandma taught me how to sew. It’s a skill I use to this day and its brought me some luck at the fair, too! Most of my ribbons were won in sewing categories including quilts, felt applique, and stuffed animals. The sunflower quilt was the first blue ribbon I’d ever won and it remains one of my all-time favorite projects.
Ever since I was a small child, I loved Barbie and that love has yet to subside. I’ve made everything from evening gowns, wedding dresses, and vintage designs for my dolls. A number of my dresses have won blue ribbons, while the rest raked in the red second place ribbon (still nice!). There are at least three more dresses floating around somewhere, but try as I may, I could not find them.
The nice thing about the fair is that it occurs in October, which is well before Christmas and right before Halloween. I like to make holiday decorations for my home, so most of the holiday projects I make for the fair have a long life after the ribbons have been awarded. The felt applique advent calendar is one of my favorite pieces. It hangs in my house every Christmas and it has the added bonus of being a blue ribbon winner. The cross stitch Santa is one of those projects that took years to complete (it’s the largest cross stitch I’ve ever done). I’m pretty proud that I actually finished it and even more thrilled that it won!
The Halloween placemat is the one and only decoration I have for that holiday. I’m usually not inspired by black cats and pumpkins, but for some reason I was compelled to make this using three different patterns. It goes out every year and I still love my “boo-tiful” felt project.
Its been a few years since the family has competed. The fair stopped giving rosettes and life has interfered with a few distractions as it often does. However, we are planning to get back into the game next Spring with the County Fair. The spirit of competition calls and we can’t help but answer. Besides, we are crafters and creativity can only be kept at bay for so long!