Canfield Fair's Arts, Crafts competitors like family

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In her pink sneakers, 2-year-old Elley Sayles followed her grandmother into the Canfield Fair’s Arts and Crafts building Tuesday morning.

Grandma Melody Sayles of Boardman brought in her two cakes to compete in the baked goods competition.

Elley not only helped to bring the cakes in, but she also helped her grandma in the kitchen.

It’s truly “A Family Affair,” which happens to be this year’s Canfield Fair theme.

The Arts and Crafts Building at the corner of Austintown and Beaver drives has thousands of submissions to view over the course of the six-day fair, including Melody’s cake submissions: a fondant-designed mushroom fairy house and a pink and gray elephant cake for her Elley.

“I just like it,” Sayles said of entering into the fair’s competitions. “I grew up in Boardman and come to the fair every year.”

Sayles would always look at the entries in the Arts and Crafts building and think maybe one day her entry would be on display.

“And now, I’m doing it,” she said.

This is her fifth year entering the Canfield Fair arts and crafts competitions.

Sayles, like so many of the participants, has been baking for years.

She’s won ribbons at the fair, but that’s not why she enters.

“I don’t really care,” she said. “I do it because I like doing it.”

Tuesday morning, the Arts and Crafts building was filled with people who just like the atmosphere, the camaraderie and the fun of being a part of the Canfield Fair in some way.

As people entered with their boxes of goodies to be judged, arts and crafts hostesses helped to guide the submissions to their proper places.

The hostesses not only help make the entries presentable, they also “ooh and ah” over the submissions. It’s their job to make sure the submissions stay “ooh and ah”-worthy during the six-day fair.

Linda Pennell of Poland has been a hostess at the fair for 16 years.

Pennell also has entered into the fair competitions for more than 30 years.

“It’s fun,” she said. “I try to encourage people to enter. Everyone likes to come and see what their neighbors have done – and their friends.”

On Tuesday, Pennell took in a variety of pies to be judged on taste, texture and overall appearance.

This year, Pennell entered her quilt work, a decorative painting, a table runner and a bar cookie that has a brownie bottom, a cookie-dough center and a melted-chocolate top.

She was encouraged to start submitting her creations when her children, now in their 50s, were in junior fair as teenagers.

Once she got started, Pennell became a part of the arts-and-crafts family.

“It’s nice to see the same people come back every year,” Pennell said. “If someone doesn’t show, we wonder what happened to them.”

Kim Brothers of New Springfield is one of those participants who keeps coming back to show off her baking skills. This year, she entered 12 arts and crafts competitions. On Tuesday, she delivered nine of her entries, including her pumpkin fudge, strawberry rhubarb pie, animal cracker cookies and root beer cookies.

“I enjoy baking and enjoy the competition,” she said.

In the whole Arts and Crafts building, there are 3,000 entries from baked goods to quilts and decor.

Lisa Toy, director of Arts and Crafts, Fine Arts and Floral, uses the word “community” to describe the Arts and Crafts building.

“It’s like a reunion,” she said.