Fair Daze Finale

The last time I sold my handmade wares was in the early 1970s on the beaches of Hawaii. The memories of those exhausting set-up/tear-down days remained vivid enough that I never imagined a return to the carney circuit.

But with the first advertisement of Denver’s inaugural county fair, good sense and bad memories left me, and I immediately signed up for a booth to showcase and sell portions of my

Denver County Fair poster image

out-of-control vintage collections. With over 600 aprons alone, I finally concluded I will never live so long as to tie them all on. It’s past time due for new owners to enjoy their vintage beauty.

Here I am on opening night, fresh as a daisy and giddy with anticipation of a successful carney run. But the long fair days (10 a.m. – 10 p.m.) ultimately put me into a Fair Daze, which reminded me of my original promise to never enter the carney circuit again. Fun as it was – especially the meeting of so many wonderful people and making new friends, this fair is it for me. And should I ever be forgetful of this promise in the future, my family will heartily remind me!

DenCoFair_ea and booth 2 [640x480]

To experience the Apron Memories Fair Daze Finale through pictures, I’ve posted a photo album on the Apron Memories facebook page. A cheery interview with NPR’s Jacki Lyden about my fair experience and Supper Hollerin’ Contest can be heard here. It’s an hour segment, but fascinating. Who knew there were so many books or experts on fairs?

Tho’ my days on the carney circuit are done for, I am a huge supporter of our county and state fairs because of the opportunities at both for 4-H participants.

While many youth activities have eliminated ribbons in favor of the everyone-is-a winner ideology, 4-H rewards a young person’s commitment and excellence within a structured and highly competitive arena with ribbons, money, and media recognition.

4-H provides learning and competitive opportunities for activities other than raising stock. For Leslie Dodge, a member of the Coastal Quilt Guild of Santa Barbara, CA, 4-H was the gateway to a life-long interest in sewing.

As a ten-year-old in 1963, Leslie’s world tilted. While her parents worked to put things right, Leslie was enrolled in a 4-H summer program. Those months, which she recalls as the best in her life, provided her the sewing skills to hand piece an apron (for which she won a red/second place ribbon) and the confidence to model it (for which she took home the blue/first place ribbon).

Leslie's apron - my first sewing 4-H project July 1963 - 10 yrs old [640x480]

Here’s a close-up of the pocket, complemented with a bright yellow button. Leslie’s stitches around the pocket are all but invisible – amazing work from such a young girl.

Leslie Dodge_closeup pocket [640x480]

In this photo, Leslie models her winning apron, kept all these years wrapped away and stored in a drawer. No longer! Leslie will be framing the apron, ribbons and her handwritten story to inspire future generations to strive for excellence, one stitch at a time.

Leslie and ea [640x480]

As the featured guest at the Quilt Guild’s gathering, I hosted several workshops, including one devoted to writing your apron memory. A three-hour writing experience honed Leslie’s story into a one-page reading, which she shares below

The recording is a bit jerky, and Leslie’s nervousness is on display, but her determination to overcome those nerves in front of a large crowd and read her story deserves the blue ribbon.


Tie One On…an apron, of course!

Rodeo Reminder

It’s the State Fair and the one time of year I wear this special Colorado souvenir apron. It celebrates the state’s 100th anniversary (1859-1959). I found it in a local thrift shop and surmise that despite its age (51 years), its pristine condition is that it was never worn, folded in some drawer or other and then tossed by the “kids” when it was time to clean out Mom’s home. Such a shame, for it is such a unique piece of Colorado history. My tee shirt is embroidered Vintage Cowgirl. At least one of those words is authentic in describing me!

Our evening at the Fair included a rodeo. Walking to the bleachers had us passing by rodeo stock just as a wrangler opened the gate to move the bulls to individual stalls for their events. The dust storm kicked up by these massive athletes (in the rodeo world, participants both human and animal are considered athletic competitors) put a film over everything and brought on quite

a coughing jag, for which I had to go back the way I’d just come and seek a drink of water. On the way to the concession, I passed beneath the arena bleachers and caught this scene: the cowboys’ dressing room – where I tarried just long enough to answer the consummate question, boxers or briefs.

Returning to the arena, I took a different route and happened upon Miss Rodeo Colorado! The state’s premiere cowgirl, Kasie readying to compete for the title of Miss Rodeo America. As pretty a picture, this rhinestone cowgirl is also a super star rodeo athlete.

About ten years ago, I wrote about rodeo royalty and attended the Miss Rodeo America pageant out in Las Vegas. I was so interested in rodeo and the queen circuit because all involved are living a disappearing lifestyle.

Like a souvenir apron, once a year the State Fair is put on to remind us of the animal and human that built America’s West.


Tie One On…an apron, of course!