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Exhibits, competitions reflect fair theme

Exhibits, competitions reflect fair theme

Exhibits, competitions reflect fair theme

JoAnn Marsh, right, and Regina Gross ...

The Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair brings a great deal more to the table than thrill rides and funnel cakes.

When visitors enter the fairgrounds, they pass through a huge metal building filled with commercial booths where local businesses advertise, area clubs promote their causes and churches spread their messages.

In the center of the building, farmers and gardeners display the best of their crops, while homemakers vie for first prize with baked and canned goods.

Another building houses artwork and crafts by competitors from seven counties, all hoping to catch the judge’s eye, while a twin building next door holds row upon row of “mini-booths,” projects by students in 4-H or FFA.

These exhibits and displays reflect the character of the people who attend the fair every year. They help make it a community, agricultural fair as well as an opportunity to enjoy a midway filled with games of chance, thrill rides and fun.

On Saturday, Elizabeth Cowart, 12, of Claxton, put the finishing touches on her 4-H mini-booth about sharks.

“I just think (sharks) are amazing creatures,” she said, explaining why she chose to create her project as an educational piece on sharks.  “I’ve always liked them.”

A three-dimensional shark jumps out at viewers passing her booth – an attention-grabbing creation she fashioned out of cardboard and paint.

“I had an idea and I just ran with it,” she said. “I knew it would be fun and simple.”
Cowart has been in 4-H for three years.

“It’s awesome,” she said.

She and her sister Abigail Cowart, 13, each entered a mini-booth hoping  for a blue ribbon.

The topics for the mini-booths are varied; some projects covered subjects such as roller coasters, diabetes care, jewelry making, self-sufficient farming and babysitting. Many booths contain information about chickens, horses, sports and diets.

Brooklet resident Mollie Cromley, 16, created her mini-booth with her own hobby in mind; raising gourds.

“I grow them for a project,” she said as she began construction on her booth. “I grow a variety of gourds – swan neck, apple – and I just started growing loofah gourds.”

Gourds are used for crafts, birdhouses and decoration, and the interior of the loofahs – rough sponges that are made from the dried fruit of a tropical plant – are used for bathing, she said.

“It’s really entertaining (to grow gourds) because none of them ever look the same,” she said.
Cromley has been in 4-H for five years.

“It gives me a different outlook through agriculture,” she said. Participating in the mini-booth competition is good because she enjoys “seeing how people use their talents.”

While school-age students send messages about their interests through such projects, in the adult world, business owners use commercial booths to spread awareness about their products and services.

“This is our 20th year doing a booth,” said Statesboro photographer Lori Grice as she stood outside her booth Saturday, looking over the last-minute details.

“I love the fair,” she said. “I grew up right down the road from it, and it has a special place in my heart.”
She said she enjoys attending and manning the booth because “it’s fun to see all the friends you haven’t seen all year” as they find their ways to the fair.

As for the business side, Grice said, having a booth enables potential customers “who don’t get to come downtown (to her studio) to see the work. It helps people imagine what it would look like in their home.”

Not all commercial booths are for business. Churches use them to spread their religious messages, and clubs like Statesboro High School’s FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) use the booths to promote their own ideas.

Statesboro High School teacher Glenn Bailey, the FBLA adviser, worked Saturday with about a dozen students setting up and decorating the club’s booth. The theme is “Georgia’s Regional Puzzle Solved” and shows how the state’s agricultural and business regions are linked. Puzzle pieces representing the regions “come together to make the whole state,” he said.

One popular section of the fair’s menagerie of exhibits and displays is the baked goods, canned goods and agricultural products area.

Rows of enticing jars filled with jams, jellies and sauces compete next to an array of mouth-watering cakes, pies and cookies and arrangements of farmers’ best ears of corn, biggest pumpkins or best stalks of cotton.

It may be a matter of pride, but it is also “the prize money,” said John Love, the Statesboro Kiwanis Club member who is in charge of that section. On Saturday, a judge (whose identity he said is kept anonymous) studied each colorful jar of jam, sauces and preserves as she selected those that would win first prize.

This year it seemed the canned goods competitors were mostly mature adults, but the younger crowd took over the baked goods competition, Love said. More than 100 entries covered the tables as judges enjoyed their work.

Exhibits and displays throughout the fair are open for viewing nightly. For more information, visit

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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