Senior citizens got a chance to display their artistic and homemaking talents at the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair during a special contest for Senior Day at the fair Thursday.
Patty Whitson, community services supervisor for the Carroll County Bureau of Aging and Disabilities, said the senior contest had 361 entries this year — 102 more than the previous year.
Whitson said the bureau hadn't done any extra advertising or promotions this year, but believes more seniors might have noticed the listing of the Senior Day events and contest that ran in the newspaper. And while the majority of entries are usually submitted to the senior centers in advance of the fair, Thursday had a large number of entries dropped off by the individuals themselves.
"The quality is unbelievable," Whitson said of the entries, which ranged from fabric arts, photography, paintings, woodcarvings, floral arranging and more.
Sabine Yeager, of Finksburg, entered two paintings in the senior contest, both of which garnered blue ribbons.
"I had no idea what they meant," she said with excitement after learning that blue ribbons are better than red ribbons.
The 4-H Fair uses the Danish system of judging, said Erica Starr, center manager for the Westminster Senior and Community Center. Under the Danish system, judges do not judge one person's work against another, but against a standard and whether those requirements are met, according to a 4-H website. A blue ribbon is considered excellent, while a red ribbon is considered very good.
Yeager said she just started painting in the past year, taking classes at the North Carroll Senior and Community Center. She wouldn't have thought to enter in the fair, she said, but her teacher strongly encouraged her to do so.
Yeager said she had never even been to the county fair's Senior day before, but was glad she did Thursday.
"I love what everyone's doing," she said, pointing out her favorite artwork by others, including some friends from the North Carroll center.
Stephanie Turner, of Woodbine, said this was also her first year entering the fair; she was encouraged to do so by a friend. Turner said she moved to Carroll in December, and didn't know what to expect of the fair or how her artwork would be received.
She entered a canvas decorated with dried flowers, a digital image of that dried flower piece in which she amped up its colors, and a third piece that is a computer-based art project where she used eucalyptus leaves and a record album to create an image that was interesting to her. The judges agreed, and her three pieces received two class champion ribbons and a reserve champion ribbon.
"I thought it wouldn't fit in any category, so I didn't expect to win anything," she said of her work. "I'm ready to faint."
Jean Redmond, of Sykesville, was another first-time participant, submitting her black raspberry jelly and rhubarb jelly — two traditional recipes she and her family enjoy.
"I got the bottom of the barrel," she said with a laugh, referring to her two red ribbons. "But that's fine. It doesn't bother me."
Her husband, John Redmond, shook his head in disbelief.
"The black raspberry is a good jelly," he said. "I don't know if they tasted it or not."
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In addition to the senior contest, Senior Day included musical entertainment from Captain Chuck Fisher and Gail Bethel, both who have been winners in the Maryland Senior Idol competition. Fisher sings classic country songs and hits from Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra, while Bethel sings songs by classics like Patsy Cline and Connie Francis. Many seniors turned out to watch the show and enjoy some refreshments under the shade of the Activity Tent during the senior social.