Good Life

Grange Fair | exhibits

Martha Deitrich might not have any beans to show at this year’s Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair.

Rabbits devoured them, and she and her husband had to put up a fence to keep them away from the vegetables she’ll enter.

But for Deitrich, a well-known exhibitor at the annual fair, all is not lost.

She’s been weighing her options, choosing among the pickles, potatoes, tomatoes, peas and other items to enter in the exhibits at the fair. She expects she will have entries in fresh vegetables, flowers and arrangements, canned items, needlework and a few baked goods.

“I just keep going, going, going all the time,” said Deitrich, of Walker Township. “As soon as the fair is over one season, I start canning for the next season.”

Deitrich’s exhibits are just a few of the thousands entered each year in categories that cover almost everything under the sun.

Sort of.

There are baked goods, such as angel food cake, brownies, whoopie pies and breads.

Entrants can try their luck for the 2013 Blue Ribbon Apple Pie contest, and the winner can enter a pie in the 2014 state Farm Show in Harrisburg. Just make sure that apples comprise 60 percent of the filling.

Some of the food contests have first-place prizes worth $25, such as those for apple pie, cinnamon rolls, peanut butter fudge and chocolate-covered candy.

The baked products will be sold at auction starting at 4 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Grange Building.

Other exhibits are more eye-appealing or utilitarian than they are delectable: photography, paintings, hand-woven baskets and handbags.

Exhibits will be open to the public starting at 4 p.m. Aug. 23.

The specialty for longtime exhibitor Dotty Houtz is canned goods; she has won her fair share of blue ribbons over the years.

This year, she plans to show tomatoes, green peppers, snap beans, five kinds of onions and carrots, to name a few.

Houtz grows the vegetables. She said canning was important to preserving the food for her family.

“My husband and I farmed for 35 years and raised a family on a farm,” she said. “Vegetables were on the table every day.”

Houtz started exhibiting in the 1970s, and took over canning when her grandmother wasn’t able to do it anymore.

Now, she said she’s taught some of the women in her family to can, but they usually don’t enter the canned goods exhibits.

“They’re not ready to compete with me, they say,” Houtz said.

Houtz enjoys canning, and the fair is a great place to let the others see the role agriculture and farming plays.

“We are all proud of what we have, but we want to show it to the public,” she said.