Best of the best

HANCOCK – When Catherine Isaacson’s name was announced as the Ruth E. Best Homemaker of the Year, at the Houghton County Fair Friday afternoon, perhaps the only person in the arena who was truly surprised was … Catherine Isaacson.

Isaacson, who earlier in the afternoon won the Silver Plate award in the culinary category, picked up her third Homemaker of the Year honor. The perennial favorite previously won the honor in 2004 and again 2008. As was her reaction the previous times, Isaacson said the award came as a total surprise.

“I was shocked,” she said. “I didn’t think I had enough entries to win it.” The Homemaker of the Year Award, named after multiple winner, the late Ruth Best, is awarded based on a point system. Contestants are given points for ribbons, blue, red, etc., and must have entries in at least four of the five categories in the Adult Open Exhibition competition.

In her remarks to the large crowd on hand in the Houghton County Arena, Isaacson said she is passing the love of cooking and canning down to her daughter, as well as the tradition of entering goods in the Houghton County Fair.

“It’s a big thrill to see something I’ve canned get a blue ribbon, and next to it something of my daughters with a red ribbon, or to see mine with a red and hers with a blue ribbon,” she said.

After the ceremony, Isaacson said it was important to pass on folk traditions to younger generations.

“I think a lot of this is becoming a lost art,” she said. “We don’t sew our clothes anymore, we don’t can, we don’t do crafts.”

She said people buy things today, where years ago they made them.

Carol Freeman who is co-superintendent of the adult open competition with Jae Kann, said that entries at the fair are once again down. “Some of the low entries in floriculture and horticulture are the result of the late growing season,” she said. However, she noted that entries in many of the traditional categories are down from their previous levels. “We do get a lot of families participating, but we’d love to see more,” she said.

In addition to Isaacson’s win in the culinary division, other Silver Plate Award winners were Lori Carne in needlework, Joey Dix in floriculture, his mother Eunice Dix in horticulture and Molly Beaghan in folk/fine art. Silver Plate Award winners are based on the number of blue ribbons they received in their respective categories.

The Ruth E. Best Homemaker of the Year ward is sponsored by the Community and Family Education group, formerly known as the Extension Homemakers.

Among today’s activities are the Youth Talent Show at 12:30 p.m. on the indoor stage, the John Bishop Memorial Horse shoe and the Cowboy Challenge in the horse arena and the Ward’s Local Logging at 1 p.m. in the main outdoor arena.

Today’s entertainment includes the Chicago Honeybear Dancers, steel guitarist Mark Wayne, Tom Katalin and Caboodlestoppers midway show. Tonight’s main event is the Midwest Monster Truck Show in the main arena at 7:30. All indoor and outdoor entertainment is free with admission to the fair. The Houghton County fair runs through Sunday afternoon.