- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—If Catherine McLean adds one more ribbon to her 30-year collection, she might not be able to lift the stack. But she hopes to add more than one as she prepares for the 87th Cochranton Community Fair.

McLean is busy creating a variety of entries for the event that takes place Monday through Aug. 8 at the fairgrounds on Route 173 and Bauer Lane.

Four of McLean’s Grand Champion ribbons won at previous Cochranton Fairs aren’t included in her giant collection.

“I won one for photography, one for my Stargazer Lily and two for baking,” she said. “I won with an orange bundt cake.”

McLean recalled how she spent 20 minutes greasing every nook and cranny of the bundt pan with a paint brush. “It was worth it because the judge checked to see if each little flower in the pan was filled,” she said.

McLean has competed in various fairs with her homemade wares since she was 10 years old.

“At that age I was a member of the Dainty Stitchers,” she said. “I started out with a treadle sewing machine that I still own.” Although she embraces technology in her creations, she admits that the old sewing machine still comes in handy on occasion.

At the top of the heap of ribbons is the first one that McLean won in 1985.

“I won for a Christmas outfit that I made for my daughter when she was 2 years old,” McLean said. As her daughter grew, her tastes changed and McLean started making more clothes for herself and creating some one-of-a kind aprons. “Aprons are my thing now,” she said.

Although her aprons are beautifully embellished, she has learned from years of competition that fancy doesn’t always win.

“Judges are always looking for attention to detail,” she said. “The key to winning is matching designs and having perfect hems. It’s all about workmanship.”

Her finished creations seem to be high in quality, but it’s not always a smooth ride getting to the finished project.

“Sometimes I have to rip out stitches and start all over again,” she said. “When I was getting ready for the baking competition during my 25th year of competing, I made a batch of bread that went flat,” she said. “I made another batch at the last minute that was actually still warm when it was judged and I won.”

McLean wasn’t sure how long she could keep competing, so she worked diligently to make her 25th year of competition memorable. She entered 31 items to be judged that year. She went home with 28 ribbons to add to her pile.

Now celebrating her 30th year at the Cochranton fair, she had hoped to enter 30 items.

“I might not make it since I have 11 items ready at this point, but I’ve been very busy,” she said recently.

Despite her success, McLean doesn’t spend all of her time sewing, baking, taking pictures and creating floral arrangements. She is active in volunteering at the fair and with her 4-H Club. If that weren’t enough, she is also an author. Her third novel will be released on Aug. 5.

“With everything else that I’m trying to get done right now, I also have to fit in a blog tour for my book,” she said.

The public can check out lots of McLean’s creations, as well as the other creations of community members, in the home show buildings next week.

The annual event includes children’s activities, entertainment, music, commercial vendors selling their wares, crafts, amusement rides, special arena shows, livestock competitions and exhibits plus a wide variety of food and attractions.

Schedule of Events


7 p.m.: Vesper Service


10 a.m. to 8 p.m.: Entering home show exhibits

10 a.m. to midnight: Entering all livestock

8 to 11 p.m.: Sugar Lake Pickers on stage

Aug. 4

8 a.m. to noon: Entering home show exhibits

8 a.m.: Judging sheep and rabbits

1 p.m.: Judging fair exhibits in Exhibit Building

4: Judging goats

7: Horse pull

7: Baked goods sale

8: Adult goat milking competition

8 to 11: Loose Change on stage

Aug. 5

10 a.m.: Junior and open cattle show

5 p.m.: Open beef cattle show

6:30: Parade, including float contest

8 to 11: Chaz on stage

Aug. 6

1 p.m.: Halter class horse judging

7: Kids goat milking competition

7: People pull

8 to 11: Traditional Country on stage

Aug. 7

6 p.m.: Power wheels contest

8: Cow chip bingo

8 to 11: Bitter Past on stage

Aug. 8

10 a.m.: Exhibitors, horse show

Noon: Rabbit dress up contest

1: Pedal tractor pull with kids water battle following

6: Garden tractor pull

8 to 11: The Tim Whitman Band on stage

Dusk: Fireworks

Lorri Drumm can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at [email protected]


(c)2015 The Meadville Tribune (Meadville, Pa.)

Visit The Meadville Tribune (Meadville, Pa.) at meadvilletribune.com

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