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County fair offers something for all ages

Editor's Note: Mary Sue Kennington is director of the Citrus County Extension Service. This is one in an occasional series of columns she will present. For information call the Extension office, 726-2141.

Everybody has a good time at the Citrus County Fair! This slogan summarizes this upcoming annual event. The Citrus County Fair is truly a community-based event. It is an important link to our agricultural and cultural heritage. This year's Citrus County fair is fast approaching. It begins March 20 and runs through March 25. The theme is Celebrating Family Traditions.

There really is no place like a county fair. It is an experience that can be enjoyed by folks from both rural and urban backgrounds. It is a melting pot of sights, smells and sounds. Many folks think of the County Fair in terms of Ferris wheels, steer shows, music, cotton candy, "blooming" onions, midway games, and mini-loaves of fresh baked bread (made by me!).

What really makes the County Fair a county fair is the involvement and participation of county citizens in the Adult and Youth World Exhibits. The county fair offers all citizens of the county an opportunity to show off and boast about their talents and skills.

I'm writing this column to encourage members of all households to come forward to show off their talents. Besides serving as an Extension Agent, I am the Co-Chairwoman of the Citrus County Adult World Exhibits. My job is to promote the Fair Exhibit Categories, to recruit judges and to make sure each exhibit receives an appropriate Blue, Red or White Ribbon.

Every one of us, children included, has at least one skill that can be shown or demonstrated during the Fair. Maybe you are talented at baking chocolate chip cookies or you grow giant tomatoes, make homemade jelly, or weave pine needle baskets. These are just some of the things that can be entered as an exhibit in the Fair. Professional judges critique all exhibits for quality based on an uniform set of standards and each exhibit is awarded a ribbon based on the merit of the item.

Divisions for Adult Exhibit Categories are: Agriculture (egg production, vegetables, fruit, etc.), Clothing, Creative Arts, Baked Goods, Food Preservation, Needlework, Quilting, Fine Arts, and Horticulture. All entries except baked goods should be brought to the Fairgrounds between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. March 17 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 18. Baked goods should be brought in between 8 and 10 a.m. March 20.

Specific entry rules and guidelines will be listed in the 2000 Citrus County Fair Book that will be released around March 1. Look for it in the Chronicle or at the Citrus County Fair Office.

A special fair contest this year is the Family Tradition Cookie Contest. Just about anyone can bake up some cookies. Be sure to enter one or more of your family's favorite cookies in this contest. The cookie categories are: Sugar, Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, Sandwich Style, Tile and Lace, Fruit, Peanut Butter, Biscotti, and Mexican Wedding cookies.

All exhibits remain on display during the week of the fair to be viewed by all the fair goers.

And be sure to stop by the Extension Service/Family and Community Education hot bread station at the fair. For only 50 cents you can enjoy an old family tradition _ freshly baked bread still hot from the oven!

So, come on down. Get involved. Be a winner. Be a part of the Citrus County Fair. Have the time of your life and show off your talents! Prepare your fair exhibits now to enter them on March 17 and 18.

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