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Fair time brings out blue ribbon winners

GRANDVIEW - Even though the number of open class entries are a bit down at this year's Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo, which opens today (Wednesday), the Beavan Building is filled with plenty of jellies, jams, pickles and canned vegetables, all competing for the many blue ribbons available to Lower Valley fair competitors.

According to Betty Hames, the entries in the open class are down a bit. Hames and her crew of volunteers spent much of Monday accepting and organizing the entries, which ranged from handmade angora shawls to samples of chocolate brownies.

"Oh, there is still plenty of competition," said Hames, who is the superintendent of the fair's home economic open class.

Tuesday, Hames spent the day helping judge the hundreds of food crafts and creative arts entries in preparation for today's opening of the five-day fair.

One of her favorite categories this year is a new one, which Hames hopes will continue to grow in popularity. Called "Bridging the Gap," the category is open to children and their grandparents.

The category encourages grandparents and their grandchildren to work together on a project in an effort to pass on such skills as sewing, crocheting and knitting or the development of hobbies like stamp collecting, Hames explained.

"We only have a few entries for it this year, but I can see it growing," Hames said.

Among the entries in the Bridging the Gap category this year are homegrown potatoes and carrots, bumble bees made of yellow mustard bottles and photo collages.

"It's a category that just needs a little encouragement to grow," Hames added.

One seasoned competitor who needs little encouragement is Linda Graham of Grandview. The Grandview teacher's aide is a member of a group of Grandview painters who meet weekly.

Saying she is excited about this year's competition, Graham has submitted two of her favorite scenics for judging.

"In fact, we've all entered something," Graham said, noting there are six painters in her group.

Graham, who has entered her paintings for the past three years, is hoping her oil painting of a mountain stream will earn her accolades.

"I think my 'happy picture' is a winner," she admitted.

Saying a number of her previous entries have been winners, Graham also entered a painting of a farm scene in the fair's creative arts division.

Graham said her painting group is just a group of friends who like painting and encouraging one another.

"We call ourselves the Art Gallery and we just laugh and have fun at our meetings," she added.

Valerie Cowls, another long-time Grandview fair participant, is eager to see the results of her domestic efforts.

"I'd heard there weren't many home economic entries this year and I wanted to help out," she said of her basketful of entries.

Cowls said she submitted a jar of canned Rainier cherries, a jar of apple butter, plus a cross stitch item and two handmade quilts.

"One quilt was pieced by my husband's grandmother many years ago," she explained. "I only recently decided to quilt it up," she explained.

But it is a baby quilt she made for a brand new grandchild born near her own birthday that is her favorite to win.

"At least I hope it will," she smiled.

Visitors to the fair's Beavan building will also find a bevy of other items created by adults. Among the items are examples of scrapbook pages, photography, hobby displays and ceramics, in addition to food preservation and sewing displays. Also on display in the Beavan building is the usual array of youth projects created by 4-H club members and other youth groups.

The fairgrounds is open from 8 a.m. through 11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and will be open until midnight on Friday and Saturday. The fair closes Sunday, Aug. 14, at 8 p.m.

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