BROOKSVILLE — Garret Bayne is a 9-year-old who already has embarked on many missions. They're on display, with big ribbon awards, beginning this evening at the Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show.
Garret's self-designed solar water heater won best of show in youth science exhibits. His quilt won reserve best in youth needlecrafts.
The son of Nicky Baker and Steve Bayne of Ridge Manor is homeschooled by his mother. She has taken him beyond the standard curriculum.
In the coming days, Garret will also show a steer, a chicken and a rabbit, all of which he raised.
"I'm covering all the angles this year," he said.
A member of the Jolly Ranchers 4-H Club under leader Tammy Finther, Garret previously earned fair wins in the agriculture division with a chicken and in the youth science division with a model space station.
Of his science endeavors, Garret said, "Actually, they are things I just came up with and just started building."
His prize-winning machine-stitched quilt, 45 inches square, features striking red, blue and green on a predominantly yellow background.
"It took me a long time to come up with the pattern and the colors. I just came up with it in my head," he said.
After the head work, the quilt's execution took four or five days.
In addition to quilting, Garret knits, but he skipped an entry in that category this year.
The home and family living exhibits are sometimes overlooked by fairgoers, with greater attention to the large livestock, the midway and the food stands. But the exhibits, on display in the auditorium building, are worth perusing for their variety, creativity and excellence.
A counted cross-stitch piece by 18-year-old Amber McAndrew beat out Garret's quilt for best of show. Morgan Kiloh, 11, topped the youth arts and crafts category with a photography composition of water birds accompanied by an informational poster.
Winning reserve bests were hand-painted eggshells by 12-year-old Lea Fuller and a butterfly print skirt stitched by Carissa Zapadenko, 16.
Judges last week took their work seriously.
In youth basketry, judge Alice McCarrick, a 4-H leader, said, "I'm surprised these are so good." Noting a puff-filled fabric basket — all entries are identified only by the age of the maker — McCarrick said, "Sewing is difficult for a 10-year-old."
Added co-judge Diana Limpert, a creative crafter herself: "Some of the best baskets are coming from 8- and 9-year-old boys."
The judges scrutinized the tightness of weave, symmetry and sturdiness.
At another station, judges Mark Estrada, a college art student, and George Martinez, a former gallery owner in California, examined art entries for construction, technique and good use of the media.
"This is two-dimensional," Estrada said as he critiqued a high school pastel of a larger-than-life partial face. He wanted to see more depth.
"I see some really good works, and some are just entries," he said.
Noted Martinez: "In the younger kids' entries, there's a lot of attention to detail and a lot of framing, which means they care. The younger kids are showing insight."
Examining entries in recycled art, Carol Meiler handled a quilt sewn by an 18-year-old from pieces of old jeans.
"Very good, very good," she said. "I think a blue ribbon."
Co-judge Doris Cloman dangled from her hand a purse woven of strips of newspapers.
"A very original idea," she said. "Creative but useless. Cardboard would have been better."
Edna Huff and Sandra Allman, both third-generation quilters, turned knowing eyes on the adult quilt entries.
"I don't like the binding," said Allman, examining a machine-stitched entry. She preferred machine stitching on one edge and hand stitching on the other side.
"Not very many do hand binding," she lamented. "The colors match," she noted, agreeing to a blue ribbon.
On to another entry: a quilt in preprinted panels, but also some pieced.
"If she'd just done stitching on that line," Huff pointed out, "it would have been better."
Judge and professional seamstress Joan Miller couldn't find any better craftsmanship and attention to detail, with artisan touches, that could have been performed in the sewing of a christening gown in the adult textile division.
Miller pointed out tiny appliques, lace adornments, finished edges, minute hand embroidery, with each swirl ending in a pinhead-sized pearl, and full lining. And it came with a pair of infant-sized panties layered with lace.
"It's just perfect," said Miller, "a real keepsake."
The masterpiece, best of show in textiles and clothing, was made by Barbara Kaluga of Brooksville.
Other best of show entries in their categories include a sculpted sand castle, a hearts and flowers hooked rug, and a wooden artifice made of crochet needles.
Beth Gray can be reached at email@example.com.