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Exhibitors at the annual Cleveland County Fair come from across the county and include all ages and backgrounds. While some exhibitors enjoy the competition others simply like learning and experiencing new things.
For Ashley Hughes, entering exhibits at the fair has always been a family affair.
“I’ve been entering the fair regularly since I was about 14, so that’s at least 20 years ago,” Hughes said. “My mom taught me and the goal became to make something you could enter at the fair. I think the first thing I ever entered was a pillow, and it won second place.”
If you live in Cleveland County and have a special talent or interest like art, quilting, gardening, baking or photography, you may want to consider entering the Cleveland County Fair.
“It’s so fun to see the community come together with all of their prized creations,” said Courtney DeKalb-Myers, OSU Extension, horticulture and 4-H educator. “If you’ve never entered the county fair before, I would highly encourage you to try it. There are so many different categories to highlight everyone’s talents.”
Any county resident can enter the Open categories at the fair and this includes children, youth and developmentally disabled as well as adults.
Hughes started as a young person entering the fair with her sister.
Now she has continued the family tradition, entering items with her children.
“We do canning and quilts and some knitting and needlework,” she said.
Hughes has entered canned items in every category, but specializes in jams, jellies and relishes. The family has also entered poultry. Entering is free and some categories have sponsored prizes, she said.
“The fair is a nice goal for the kids to have something to work at,” Hughes said. “There’s prize money too, and they’ll plan how they’d want to spend that. It’s something real and they’re not just on the computer screen. They get to work at a craft, and we often work on our projects together and it brings the family together.”
To get started preparing your fair entry, pick up a fair book at Cleveland County Fairgrounds Office in the north building of the campus at 615 E. Robinson St., Building G, anytime Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also download an Open Category fair book online from this website.
Next, check the listings in the book and see if there is a class for your exhibit. There are numerous entry possibilities for the adult and youth categories. Read the rules and regulations for entering and for the category you want to enter. At this point, you can call the fairgrounds office at 405-360-4721 during regular business hours or email email@example.com with questions.
Exhibitors complete a fair tag and bring the exhibit with completed fair tag to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall, Door A, between 3-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6.
“It’s easier on exhibitors to come by the office and pick up an exhibitor number and entry tag ahead of time,” said Fair Board Secretary Sandy McClure. “If it’s someone new, we will show you how to fill these out.”
Keep a list of your exhibits and each class number for your own records.
“When you come to check in there will be people at the table who can help you,” McClure said.
Local veterinarian Dr. John Otto entered his bread in the fair the first time due to encouragement from a friend and was surprised how easy it was to enter and how helpful the volunteers and staff were to a newcomer.
“They were very welcoming and so nice,” he said. “Everyone is helpful when you enter and also when you’re picking up your ribbons afterward. The county fair is a great event. It’s a good way to bring the community together in a healthy way, and it builds relationships. It also allows you to show your creative side and works other areas of the brain. It’s fun to use your brain in different ways.”
“When you visit the fair, it’s really something to have entered and to be a part of the fair,” said Fair Board member Carol Doner. “Any county resident can enter.”
Doner added that people might not realize how many categories are available, including everything from collages, duct tape art and recycled items as well as the traditional categories.
When the fair comes to a close, exhibits will be released at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Any exhibit not picked up by 7 p.m. Sunday can be picked up Monday - Friday the next week from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.