Jennie LaFond of Libby was named 2018 Exhibitor of the Year at the Lincoln County Fair, after winning 52 ribbons out of 62 items entered.
“To say the least, I was on cloud nine for the weekend,” she said Thursday by email. “[I’m] still so very excited!”
The ribbons spanned a number of categories. LaFond’s photo of a plane dropping retardant on the Highway 37 fire, taken with her cell phone, was among 19 ribbon-winning images; her “cheeseburger cookies,” which she used to make with her daughters, won a first-place ribbon and one of her three people’s choice ribbons; her fudge garnered three ribbons, and her jams and jellies 10.
LaFond also received two sponsor exhibit ribbons and an exhibitor’s display award, she wrote.
In particular, her jams and jellies were displayed prominently at the fair, with no fewer than 39 flavors — “anything from apple butter to zucchini and everything in between” — available for sampling and purchase.
“My goal is to have a flavor you have not heard of,” LaFond wrote, noting lemon meringue, which got a ribbon, as one such flavor.
Jelly- and jam-making in LaFond’s family is now a four-generation affair, she wrote. She and her daughters picked it up from LaFond’s mother — who learned it from her mother — about 10 years ago while living in Texas.
“My daughters and I would make strawberry jelly for friends,” she explained. “On a dare, we started selling it — it was strawberry or strawberry Jalapeño. Then we added a few flavors.”
After her daughters eventually graduated and moved on, she kept making different flavors, then moved to Montana in July of 2015.
“I entered a few craft shows, then it blossomed from there,” she wrote. “I buy 50 pound bags of sugar in quantities of six to eight at a time.”