Adult exhibitors from all over Dodge County packed the open-class building at the Dodge County Fair on Wednesday to watch the open-class judges place entries in the arts, crafts, clothing, knitting and crocheting, amateur photography, and foods categories. Open class is geared toward adults and senior citizens, and this year, these categories, alone, boasted an impressive 2,162 entries.

Although the stories differ about how exhibitors got started in open class, the reason for continuing participation is the same.

Larissa Schumann, Waterloo, exhibits with her Mom in photography every year, but she did not grow up exhibiting at the fair. “My Mom entered the photography category one year, and I tagged along,” commented Schumann. “Now I’ve been doing it ever since; I think this is my eighth year.”

“I like taking pictures, and we learn a lot about what looks good in a photo to make us better photographers,” added Schumann.

Lisa Hall, Neosho, was mostly raised in New Mexico and has no fair background at all. Her family came to the fair one year and decided it would be a good experience to raise their kids in the 4-H program. At the time, though, Hall didn’t realize that same decision would fuel her addiction to participating in open class. “I actually started entering because my kids are in 4-H,” commented Hall. “I wanted to show them it’s okay to do something different, and it doesn’t matter how you place, just that you’re brave enough to do it.”

“I like seeing what other people think of my artwork and cooking,” added Hall. “If you listen carefully, you can hear what they’re saying and get advice for next year.”

Everyone in Dodge County is welcome to participate in open class at the fair. Additional categories displayed in other buildings include dairy, sheep, farm crops, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and cheese. View the Open Class Exhibitor Book online and drum up some ideas for next year.

The Dodge County Fair will continue through Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.

Written by Dori Lichty, farm wife, 4-H Mom, and full-time communicator