Project Grange Fair, organized by the fair’s Youth Advisory Committee, is a sewing competition with a purpose. The contest is based on the popular TV show “Project Runway” and gives contestants a chance to show off their sewing skills and make a difference.
Last year, participants sewed dresses for a nonprofit called Little Dresses for Africa, which sends clothes to vulnerable children throughout the continent. This year, Project Grange Fair is taking on a new mission. Participants of all ages will create pillowcases for members of the armed forces who are serving far away from their homes and families.
All of the pillowcases will be crafted at two sessions during the fair. The committee will provide all the necessary materials, and the participants will be challenged to race against the clock to complete their pillowcases in under an hour. The pillowcases will be displayed in the Emporium and judged before being donated.
LeDon Young, co-chairwoman of the Youth Advisory Committee, said she hopes the pillowcases will remind recipients of home.
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“I’m hoping that by being created at the fair, somewhere in that fabric will be the smell of a candy apple or a funnel cake, and I’m hoping that somewhere in that flannel will be the thoughts of grannies saying, ‘We’re thinking of you, we love you, please come home safe,’ ” she said. “So, for those service members who can’t be at the fair but are joining us in spirit, it’s a little bit of a way to have them be part of the fair.”
The contest, now in its third year, was designed to embrace the values of the Grange. “It is a motto of the Grange that ‘we labor for the good of our order, our country and mankind,’ ” Young said. “So, this is sewing for the good of our service people … that’s what the fair is all about.”
She hopes that participants will also come away with the feeling that they’ve helped someone. “It’s sewing with a purpose,” she adds, “Last year the ladies that made the dresses had a delightful time making them, knowing that they were going to go to vulnerable little girls.”
Aside from serving the community, Young hopes the contest will also highlight sewing, which she calls a “vanishing skill.” “We have lots of contests at the fair, and we wanted to do something that highlighted sewing. So, you don’t have to run, you don’t have to know your agricultural Jeopardy, you don’t have to compete in the Barnyard Olympics … this is a way for those who sew to show their skill.”
Project Grange Fair is the brainchild of the Youth Advisory Committee, which allows young people to make their mark on the fair. Young is eager to talk about the impact the committee is having on the fair.
“It’s a way for us to introduce younger folks into the mechanics of the fair committee,” she said. “I’m very proud that Danielle Nyman, who was Junior Grange Fair Person of the year, is now serving as assistant in the hay and grain department. ... We’re very, very proud to have our youth active in the Grange Fair Committee.”
Project Grange Fair is open to anyone who would like to participate. Contestants can sign up on Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Rec Building. Although the competition is open to everyone, it is strongly encouraged that participants have some sewing experience before signing up.
If you go
What: Project Grange Fair
When: noon-4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Rec Building, Grange fairgrounds