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Youths make Best of Show at fair

From bakers to quillers to dressmakers, the Hernando County Fair is a place for winners.

By BRITTANEY KIEFER
Published April 22, 2005


BROOKSVILLE - Amber McAndrew discovered her favorite hobby in a pile of clutter.

Amber's neighbor was cleaning out her garage a few years ago when she came across some old quilling tools. The neighbor gave the tools to Amber, who immediately began working on her first quilling project.

She hasn't stopped since.

Amber's latest quilling, a picture of a bluebird on a limb, received a Best of Class ribbon in the arts and crafts category at this year's Hernando County Fair, which began last weekend and runs through Sunday.

The quilling is just one of dozens of youth exhibits that competed for awards at the fair. Hernando County youth of all ages could enter exhibits in one or all youth divisions: arts, crafts, clothing and accessories; baked goods and candy; eggs; horticulture; poultry; rabbits, and 4-H club and FFA chapter exhibits.

Each exhibit was awarded one of three merit ribbons by a panel of judges. Blue ribbons were awarded for excellent exhibits, red ribbons were given to very good exhibits, and white ribbons signified a good exhibit.

The best exhibits in each classification of a division received Best of Class ribbons. In most categories, the Best of Class winners then went on to compete for Best of Show; in poultry and rabbits, class winners competed for Grand Champion honors.

"I'm so proud of all of our 4-H fair participants. They worked so hard this year," said Peggy Gist, 4-H program assistant.

Amber, 15, and her sister, Kayla, 12, have been members of the Kaleidoscope 4-H Club since they were in elementary school. The girls, who are homeschooled, entered several projects in this year's fair, including clothing, accessories and baked goods.

"I love the quilling the best," Amber said.

Quilling is the art of rolling thin strips of paper into different shapes to form designs on a flat surface. Amber has completed many quilling projects, including a chess board, a butterfly and a picture of flower pots.

She also enjoys sewing, cross-stitching and baking. She wants to continue participating in 4-H competitions for the rest of high school, and hopes to pursue a career in art or music.

Kayla, who has aspirations of being a lawyer, shares her older sister's enthusiasm for arts and crafts. The dress she sewed received a blue ribbon in the arts and crafts division at the fair.

Aleisha Miller, an 11th-grade homeschooler, received the Best of Show award in the arts and crafts division for a Renaissance-style dress she sewed several months ago.

Aleisha, who moved to Florida from New York with her family five years ago, has been in 4-H for eight years as a member of the Klassic Kritters and Hernando Sharpshooters clubs. When she first joined, she was a member of a clog dancing group. She later learned how to cook and sew, and competed in horseback riding events.

Aleisha wants to study equine massage after high school.

"Horses are my first love," she said.

Last December, Aleisha was inspired by her mother, who sews Civil War clothing, to take a break from horseback riding and begin the largest project she's ever attempted for 4-H. She found a Simplicity pattern for a Renaissance-style dress, and completed the dress in three weeks.

Aleisha's hard work has paid off. In addition to the Best of Show award she received at the fair, she has won first-place prizes for her dress at three other state competitions, and will compete at 4-H district events in May and at the 4-H State Congress in June.

"I had a lot of fun doing it," she said. "I'm always looking for a challenge."

THE WINNERS

Best of Show awards were given in several categories at the Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show. Winners were:

ARTS, CRAFTS, CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES: Aleisha Miller.

BAKED GOODS AND CANDY: Rachel Lyons.

4-H CLUB EXHIBITS: Be a Champ 4-H.

FFA CHAPTER EXHIBITS: Hernando-Central FFA.

HORTICULTURE: William Wing.

Grand champion honors were awarded for:

POULTRY: John Mitten.

RABBITS: Ryan Harris (crossbred) and Matt Batta (purebred).