Standing among her plant and flower entries at the Western Kentucky State Fair, Linda Joiner moves between each with a watering can, tending them with gentle care.
For Joiner, this is a familiar practice; she’s entered items in the fair’s open division for more than 40 years. The open division competition includes clothing, food, floral items, furnishings and craft items, among other categories.
This year, Joiner entered several herbs, flowers, vegetables and craft pieces. She entered around 25 items this year, a low number for her; she usually enters 50 or 60 items.
“I’m a homemaker and I love the fair and I don’t want to see it go under,” said Joiner, 74. “I don’t have much, but what little I do have, I bring.”
Linda works with her husband, Daniel, on her entries. She said he plants most of the vegetables they enter. Daniel also makes bird baths and has entered several in the competition over the years.
“I enjoy coming and we enjoy doing it,” Daniel, 78, said. “You come in and talk to people and visit with people.”
The open division featured 1,574 items this year, its highest number ever. Marsha Parker, Christian County extension agent for family and consumer sciences, is surprised by the high level of participation and isn’t sure of its cause.
“The vegetables are up about 100 things (from last year) and it’s so dry that I can’t explain it,” Parker said.
A category specifically for children was implemented four years ago and Parker said it saw higher participation than usual this year. While many contestants come back each year, Parker said they saw a high number of first time entrants this year.
“We’ve had lots of calls this time with people wanting to enter,” she said. “We’ve just had a lot of interest this year.”
Parker said any submission can be featured in the competition as long as it fits into a particular category. Contestants are only allowed to enter one item per category. There is no cost to compete.
Blue ribbons are given for first prize winners in each category. Red ribbons are given for second and white ribbons are given for third.
REACH DENNIS O’NEIL at 270-887-3237
Overall blue ribbon winners:
First place — Jan and Richard Hornbeak, Hopkinsville, 56 blue ribbons
Second place — Dorothy Carlson, Hopkinsville, 33 blue ribbons
Third place — Faye Cornelius and Allie Maternowski, Crofton, 28 blue ribbons
Grand champions in each division:
Boys clothing — Nanny Croney, Hopkinsville
Flower arrangement — Faye Cornelius and Allie Maternowski, Crofton, for their arrangement of sunflowers
Home furnishings — Faye Cornelius, Crofton, for her pieced patchwork quilt
Marketable skills — Keely Doctorman, Hopkinsville
Foods — Dorothy Carlson, Hopkinsville, for her angel food cake
Canning — Jan and Richard Hornbeak, Hopkinsville, for their canned cherries
Gardening — Tara Roeder, Herndon, for her display of garden products