Fair Entrants Set To Show Their Stuff

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Northern Gila County Fair organizers spent the week setting up entries in preparation for the three days of festivities. Photographers submitted more than 700 entries.

Photographs, quilts and kids’ projects represented the majority of entries at the Northern Gila County Fair in the Tonto Apache Exhibit Hall late Wednesday afternoon.

Residents had until 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to enter their projects, produce, plants and flowers in the 55th Annual Northern Gila County Fair, which opens to the public today.

Maybe everyone was waiting until the very last minute, but pickings looked a little slim in the various display areas.

Exceptions appeared to be the photo, quilt and school entry areas.

Ed Toliver, superintendent for the photography department, said he had almost 800 entries and was holding his breath that not many more came in before the 6:30 p.m. deadline. He had enough display space for 700 entries and last year had to do quite a bit of juggling to fit everything in. This year he limited entries to 100 per person, hoping to avoid another last-minute jam up. To further streamline the display process, instead of hanging things as they came in and then rearranging to accommodate more entries, Toliver and his volunteers were stacking the works as they were entered — with hanging planned for after the deadline.

“Having the draw of the Arizona Highways photo editor (as a judge) is what brings the entries in,” Toliver said.

Fine Arts Superintendent Shannon Bielke was also holding her breath as the clock crept toward the deadline. Unlike Toliver, she was hoping for a big, last-minute rush of entries.

Quilts were stacked between two and three feet deep on the tables where Superintendent Trudy Warrick will display the homemaking art entries.

Entries from the area’s school children occupied about a quarter of the reservation’s gym that is used as the Tonto Apache Exhibit Hall during the five days of the fair.

The area set aside for canning entries was a little desolate and even the “plant” area — for the agriculture, horticulture and floriculture entries — still appeared to have plenty of elbowroom as the deadline approached.

Entrant Ellie Perry was single-handedly going to help fill in some of the empty space under the tent. She entered approximately 52 plants in the 2009 fair — and that is not the most she has entered. Perry said she has participated in the Northern Gila County Fair since 1984 and has run out of room on a five-foot-by-eight-foot wall to hang all the ribbons she has won with her family.

“The fair is where you show your talent. It doesn’t matter if you are in the city or a small town,” Perry said.

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