Dress begun on a dare takes prize Curtis Frizell wins in several categories


WESTMINSTER -- It started as a bet and ended a winner.

The blue satin prom dress that was never supposed to materialize went from an empty threat to a full-fledged prize winner in the semi-formal category at the county 4-H Fair.

"I knew he could do it, I just didn't think he would do it," said Lisa Wheeler of her boyfriend Curtis Frizell.

"It's like, people would say something because he is a boy making a girl's dress.

"And then he wins. No matter what he does, he does it well. He gives it his all and he comes out a winner."

Make that a multiple winner. Mr. Frizell, 18, entered over 40 items in this year's fair and has received high honors in the foods, rocketry and clothing competitions.

He also entered the woodcraft and photography categories.

"One year, I had about 100 entries -- I'm talking truckloads of stuff," said Mr. Frizell, a member of the Winfield Panthers chapter of 4-H for nine years.

"I've really cut back."

The prom dress was the result of Mr. Frizell's halfhearted suggestion to Ms. Wheeler, 18, that he could create the gown she would wear on what many high school seniors hold as the biggest social night of their academic careers.

"She said, 'I bet you can't do it' and I told her, 'I bet I can,' " said Mr. Frizell, a part-time waiter in the Carroll Lutheran Village Health Care Center cafeteria.

"It took me eight months off and on to do the dress. An hour here and there, on some Saturdays, that kind of thing."

"Looks like I won," he said.

He not only won the bet, Ms. Wheeler said, but also the admiration of numerous South Carroll High School seniors and their dates at the May prom.

When word got around that he had made her dress, the couple's arrival to the dance was met with compliments -- and surprised but appreciative looks from her classmates.

"Everyone was waiting, and they were all surprised to see it," Mr. Wheeler said of the tea-length, three-quarter-sleeved gown that won in its classand was showcased through yesterday.

"They all thought it was lovely."

So did the fair judges, who gave the gown a purple ribbon, a "superior" rating.

Some of Mr. Frizell's other entries fared as well or even better. His chocolate-chip cookies won the foods competition, and his icing-less chiffon tube cake earned a superior rating and Reserve Champion honors.

A gray mechanical rocket, with orange, black, and red flame decals that he created from several kits, soared as Grand Champion and took high marks in other classes of the rocketry contest.

He also won a blue ribbon in the plant growing and flower arranging competitions.

"People do joke with me about the things I do, but no one has ever said anything really negative to me about it, nothing really mean," Mr. Frizell said. "You should never be ashamed of anything you can do."

Ms. Wheeler, a Sykesville resident who plans to begin studying physical therapy at the University of Maryland College Park in the fall, agreed.

"He is into so many things. I think it is terrific that he is so well-rounded," she said, pointing to one of his flowers hanging from the ceiling of the exhibit building and his small African violet on a table.

"He can do things that some people think are for girls only because he is so talented. His interests and hobbies make him everyone rolled up into one."

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