Judges went through hundreds of arts and crafts prepared by local 4-H members Monday evening, as part of the soft opening for the Crawford County Fair.

Judges went through hundreds of arts and crafts prepared by local 4-H members Monday evening, as part of the soft opening for the Crawford County Fair.

Joan Davied, arts and crafts superintendent, said she was expecting anywhere between 300 and 400 entries over the competition’s three divisions — juniors, age 7-9; intermediates, 10-13; and seniors, 14-18.

“It may be down a bit because of the economy,” Davied said. “There’s the price of gas, but there’s also the cost of purchasing the materials and the tools needed for the projects.”

Still, the seats were packed as 4-Hers and their parents waited to be called to the table to meet with judges. One of those 4-H members, Andrew Augustin, is a senior member with the Walnut Wonder Workers.

Augustin, who said he was in his 10th year of 4-H, made a series of ceramic entries, including a chair, a pinch pot and a coil pot.

“I wasn’t really nervous at all,” Augustin said. “When you’ve been doing this long enough, it’s not as hard.”

Augustin said the questions ranged from how he made it to the difficulty of the project.

“I liked (the project),” Augustin said. “I thought it looked pretty good. You could put flowers and things like that in there.”

Among the other projects were a wheel made of crayons and a few homemade baskets, and some general wood-working. Last year, Davied said the contest added “fiber art”, which includes any art using fibers or fabrics. The entries will be shown where people purchase ice cream starting on Wednesday.

Participants will be awarded either an outstanding, a grand or a reserve award.

The qualifications vary by judge, but Kacey Preston said she looked largely for originality.

“I also try to look for how much they did, as opposed to their parents,” Preston said.

Preston said one of her favorite projects she’d seen in previous years was a wood box project where a participant used cookie cutters and several colors of beans to make the project stand out.

“Kids have such a creative mind,” Preston said. “I’m always so impressed with the creative ways they can find to decorate something ordinary, like a Popsicle stick.

“A lot of times, these kinds of projects can get kids into trouble. It’s nice that we give them a place where we can reward them for the many things they create.”

Kevin Flaherty can be reached at kevin.flaherty@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 Ext. 134.