The Roundup -

Open Class Exhibits Invite Everyone To Get Involved


Each year Penny Verhasselt tries something new and different with her quilting, as you can see from two previously entered quilts she has sewn.

With the Richland County Fair fast approaching, there are many things to look forward to: the rodeo, carnival, concert and other entertainment, and, of course, the fair entries that peak people's interests, filling booths and lining walls and shelves. While many exhibits are entered by schools and 4-H members, Open Class entries are for anyone who takes independent interest.

There are a number of categories for all ages and while some work on projects specifically for the fair, there are plenty of people who take something they have already made for fun or function.

Teresa Nollmeyer has been entering in the fair almost every year since 1972. As a child, she became involved through 4-H and as an adult she still enjoys exhibiting.

"The exhibits are something that make the fair interesting," she commented.

Nollmeyer has entered in a variety of categories over the years, however canned goods seem to be her nitch as it is something that she does throughout the year and sets aside the canned goods she wants to enter as she goes. She discusses the satisfaction that comes with the finished product and the feeling of efficiency.

"I would encourage people to get involved in entering in the fair. Find what's going on in your life right now...canning is a good fit for me because it's something I'm doing anyway. I've met a lot of people I wouldn't have otherwise met because I've been involved," she commented. "It is nice to know what others think about what you're doing."

Penny Verhasselt also got involved as a child through 4-H, and as an adult, has been entering in Open Class for about 10 years.

"I got involved because I was influenced by my friends. I remember saying 'I am never going to cut big pieces of material into small pieces and then sew them back together to make a big piece of material again!' But I was wrong," she laughed. "My friend Donnette Dopp got me and a group of friends into quilting and then encouraged us to enter in the fair. It's all her fault."

Over the years, Verhasselt has entered in canning, baking, and photography, but quilting is her go-to. Eventually she 'corrupted' her mom, Mildred Delaney, and her sisters, getting them to participate as well. Her husband Terry Verhasselt has also entered in the woodworking category in the past. Penny Verhasselt discusses how having projects judged not only showcases current talents, but also shows progression in skill from year to year.

When asked why she would encourage others to get involved, she replied, "You are supporting the community with your display. If we don't contribute, there won't be enough interest to continue and it will become a lost art. I don't want to see that happen."

Both Verhasselt and Delaney agree that if participation wanes, a valuable aspect of the fair will be lost.

"Even if people don't think it is 'good enough', if you made it, enter it. Try it; every time you do you will get a little bit better. Enter what you can and display the rest because you are showcasing your craft and giving ideas to the people that stop to look."

While we are fortunate here in Richland County to have a lot of interest and participation in our fair, it is always a good time to encourage others to become involved. While ribbons and winnings are incentive, someone might just find the satisfaction of being involved enough to keep them entering year after year.

Pre entry is required and entry sheets will be accepted any time before Sunday, August 2nd at the Richland County Fairgrounds. For more information, contact the Richland County Fair and Rodeo at 406-433-2801.


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