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September 13, 2013

Eye on the prize: For local residents, fair is all about ribbons

The Cullman County Fair brings to town the familiar carnival rides and tasty cotton candy, but the foundation of the event’s success rests in the community’s tradition of participating in multiple events at the annual fall event.

The Cullman County Fairgrounds, located in the Sportsman Lake complex off U.S. Highway 31, offers residents and visitors a chance to enter baking, canning, art and photography contests. And there’s still the ever-popular Fair Queen pageant as well as animal shows, live entertainment, and of course the  Ferris Wheel and a corndog or two to round out the visit.

Art exhibit manager and Lioness Club member Jane Hetherington has worked with the Cullman County Fair for 30 years and said there is not another event like it.

“You still see other fairs still having carnival rides but we have agriculture, crops, animals, the art contest still featured,” Hetherington said. “Our cattle barn will feature an animal of the day. It gives students a chance to get involved through 4-H, FCCLA, FFA, or just enter by bringing their animals to show, submitting baked goods and art work. My children have been coming here for years and now they are helping with it, too. It’s a great thing for Cullman.”

Hetherington said around 400 art entries have been entered, covering seven age divisions.

Another popular exhibit is the baked goods contest. Alabama Cooperative Extension System Agent Assistant Raydonna Sims said more entries have been received from senior citizens this year than usual.

“We’ve seen more the sweet bread and rolls entries and cookies are also big this year,” Sims said. “We’ve had several entries for the king and queen of the kitchen too.”

Students are also known for entering many of the contests, including the baked goods event. Eleven-year-old Samuel Guthery, a home school student, said he entered food items into both the baked goods and canning categories.

“It’s really fun to bake the pies, but I did it because I really wanted the ribbon,” Guthery said. “I really like baking and everything but I want to win the ribbon, too. I entered pies and some canned goods.”

The workers have been accepting and setting up the artwork for days and it is now being  judged. Hetherington said the judges that are used for the art portion are from outside of Cullman and are typically college professors.

“The Cullman County Fair is one of the few left of its kind and it’s a great event for our community each year,” Hetherington said.

Lauren Estes can be reached at laurene@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.

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