The 2018 Lincoln County Junior Fair had about 50 participants this year, with 39 Grand Champion ribbons awarded, and more than a few participants taking ribbons in multiple categories.
A returning champion with entries in categories spanning music, woodworking, dioramas, photography and artwork, 16-year-old Shelby Smith said she has been participating in the fair since substitute teacher Jan Kendall suggested she try it around six years ago.
Last year, Smith entered around 160 exhibits. This year, she “downsized” to about 80, she said.
This year, her miniature replica of the Jennings Montana General Store won not only a Grand Champion Ribbon, but a People’s Choice Award, voted on by visitors to the fair exhibits at the Asa Wood school building.
The entire build took her a solid three weeks, Smith said. While she did buy a few pieces at a crafts store, complicated and detailed items such as the wood stove, cash register and things such as the movable doors she made herself.
The opportunity to expend her creativity in new and different years has kept her excited about the fair year after year, and she’d encourage other young people to try it, Smith said.
“I would definitely encourage them, yes,” she said. “And to try out things and see what they’re capable of doing.”
Not only does participating provide an outlet for creativity and imagination, it can allow someone to explore new ways of expressing themselves, and then share it with others.
Mannix Montgomery, who was participating for his third year, said he felt a little nervous and stressed going up during the Performing Arts portion to demonstrate his knowledge of taekwondo, but that nervousness faded.
He also recalled all the detail work of putting shingles on the roof of a wood kit house, but said he had fun in the end.
“It’s really fun trying new stuff,” he said.
Cathy Jenks, who chairs the Junior Fair board, said that she feels the fair promotes good sportsmanship and exposes the children to the importance of volunteering — the night of the awards participants help to tear down.
It also gives them recognition for their accomplishments and for learning new skills, she said, from food preparation and preservation, to fine art.
The one thing she said she would like to see more of is parent participation. Though the number of exhibitors has declined over the years, the number of exhibits have stayed high, as has the opportunity for individual participants to show what they can do.