A Colusa woman took home the Best of the Best award at the 78th Colusa County Fair after her quilt swept all available prizes, including Best of Division and Best of Show.
Mary Overton, 83, was humble in accepting the judge’s decision, but believed weighing her quilt against other Best of Show exhibits like Marie Spooner’s canned pears, Patti Jo Cairo’s cheesecake, and Mary Ann Nation’s scenic oil painting was probably a task too great for anyone.
“I wouldn’t say my quilt was the best of everything,” Overton said. “I’m not sure what the judge saw, but there were a lot of other wonderful quilts entered this year, and a lot of other great exhibits,” Overton said.
Since the 1800s, a winning ribbon at a local gathering, fair, or festival meant one thing: Exhibitors are fierce competitors.
For decades, a homemaker’s best breads, cakes, jams, jellies, and textiles always made their way to exhibit tables for tasting and judging.
And while women have traditionally ruled the domestic arts at the Colusa County Fair, men, too, have found their rightful place in categories such as fine arts, floriculture, agriculture, and preserving and drying foods.
David Grimes’ picture of the Milky Way over the Buttes won Best of Show for photography and Dave Ferraiuolo’s white onions won Best of Show for agriculture.
Other Best of Show winners at the fair included Shiela Etchepare, for her “Sportsman’s Holiday” table setting. Cynthia Peterson won Best of Show for her floriculture exhibit of succulents, and Lynn Spivak won Best of Show for her floriculture exhibit of a single lily.
For youth, young men and women participate equally in all categories, including agriculture and livestock production, through programs like 4-H and FFA, but also enter individual and school projects.
In junior photography, Morgan Cotter won Best of Show for her portrait of a child, and Jordyn Stephens won Best of Show in dressmaking, as well as Best in Division for a floriculture exhibit.
But most people browsing the exhibits at the Colusa County Fair during its four-day run saw in Overton’s quilt what the judges saw: a brilliant use of color, straight lines, sharp points, and excellent technique.
“Mary is the queen of quilts,” said Joyce Brookins, who watched the judging on June 5.
The pattern for Overton’s red, white, and blue quilt as well as the fabric came from The Quilt Coral in Willows, and was the “Block of the Month” at the Friends Around the Block Quilt Shop in Colusa.
Overton, a member of the Colusa Flyway Quilt Guild, said she would consider entering the quilt in the California State Fair. ■