Have a magnificent piece of art, excellent jar of jelly, beautiful quilt or gorgeous woodworked curio you’ve created? Consider entering this year’s Creative Arts competition at the Arkansas State Fair. It’s free to enter, and you might even win money in addition to bragging rights.
“We display everything, no matter if they win or not. And there are monetary prizes for the winners,” says Gina Clement, the arts and crafts director for the fair. “We award first, second and third places for the adults and up to five places for kids. Winners go home with ribbons and checks!” Adults receive $7 for every first-place win, while kids who place first receive $5.
You never know what you’ll see in this competition!
“Last year, we had a 300-pound welded truck that a 9-year-old welded himself. We displayed photos of him making it,” Clement shares. “Someone else cut a tree down, and they actually made it into a table. They sanded it down and shellacked it. We had to get maintenance in to help bring it in — it took 5 men! It was huge!”
You can compete in home canning and preservation, crochet and needlework, honey production, woodworking and metal crafting, collage, ceramics and sewing. There are also specific categories, such as creative stitchery, as well as a span of options to enter in the photography categories. There’s even a (mail-in) creative writing competition and a challenge to see who can grow the state’s largest pumpkin and watermelon.
There are also special contests, in which the makers of winning entries take home larger cash prizes.
“Joan Warren’s mother (Avie Tester) was an avid quiltmaker,” Clement says. “In her memory, Joan is putting up $100 for the overall best quilt.” Arkansas Farm Bureau will award a $25 prize to the best canning entry, and the Arkansas State Fair will award $25 to the best overall craft winner.
All entries must be registered online by 10 p.m. on October 1. Entries must be brought in person to the State Fairgrounds’ Arts and Crafts Building in Little Rock between October 5 to October 7. Once entries are collected, experts examine and judge them. Volunteers scramble to pack the glass cases that line the walls of the building, ensuring each piece can be viewed by the public. It’s a real effort that takes dozens of people to accomplish.
During the Arkansas State Fair, taking place October 13 to October 22, thousands of people will come through to view the displays and visit with the Arkansas Made crafters and cooks, who offer their locally created works for sale in the curated vendor space within. Visitors can also sample Post Familie Vineyard wines for $5 a glass.
There’s also a series of live competitions during the fair, including several culinary contests:
- The Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association brisket cook-off
- The Arkansas Cattlewomen’s chili contest
- Hiland Dairy’s three-product challenge
- Petit Jean Meats cooking contest
- The Arkansas State Fair pie contest
- Splenda’s citrus dessert competition
Beyond food competitions, Floral Express will once again offer a flower arrangement competition. There’s also a kids’ pumpkin-painting contest. “That was a big hit last year! We had 20-something kids!” Clement says.
And there’s a new competition to boot. The Arkansas Clogging Council will be running a competition for both kids and adults. Clogging is an important style of heritage dancing, and the council hopes that by sharing the competition with people attending the Arkansas State Fair, more people will indulge their interest in clogging and learn about its history and performance.
Want to participate? Arkansas amateurs and hobby crafters who don’t earn more than 25% of their income from their craft are welcome to compete. Entries are divided by age group; children as young as 5 can participate. For more information, visit the Arkansas State Fair website or call (501) 372-8341.
You can also call that number if you or your group wish to volunteer at the Arts and Crafts Building. While volunteers don’t receive monetary compensation, they can receive perks such as free fair entrance and passes to rides in exchange for their time.
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas are proud to sponsor the Arkansas State Fair. For more information about this year’s event, visit the Arkansas State Fair website.