County fair attracts competitors in categories such as livestock, fine art

Penny Bryant will enter her “Carousel with Horses” in the Counted Cross-stitch category and “Garden Fairy” in the Adults Crafts category in the Curry County Fair, which starts Monday and runs through Aug. 20. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

Thousands of tiny, colorful stitches combine to create the image of three carousel horses.

Those horses are the centerpiece of two years’ work for Penny Bryant. She has worked on the cross-stitch project for that long and plans to enter it in the upcoming Curry County Fair.

The fair runs Monday through Aug. 20 and according to fair personnel, approximately 600 county residents will have the opportunity to compete in such areas as livestock, home and fine arts and horticulture categories. Bryant will participate in the home and fine arts division.

According to Bryant, it took two years to complete the cross-stitch because she was working fulltime and raising a small child.

“I worked on it about two or three hours a week,” she said.

Although she has never entered anything in the Curry County Fair, she did compete in Alamogordo last year.

“I received first runner-up — I would like to do better this time,” Bryant said. “I am my own worst critic, but everyone who has seen the carousel horses piece says it is beautiful.”

Bryant says she comes from a long line of sewing enthusiasts. “I learned when I was six,” she said. “My mother and grandmother taught me. They were Iowa farm wives, so sewing was a big part of their lives.”

The carousel cross-stitch features bright pastels, gold bead accents and several specialty stitches. It has also been framed and matted.

“I believe presentation is very important,” she said. “If I spend that much time creating it, I want it to last forever.”

Bryant said she usually takes on large projects and is able to finish two or three pieces a year. She completed the carousel piece for her 15-year-old daughter, Victoria, who collects them.

Bryant has had plenty of practice with a needle and thread. She is employed as a seamstress at Prince Plaza Cleaners on Cannon Air Force Base. Bryant also plans to enter a garden fairy doll costume in the fair. Even though she sews professionally, she says that neither of these items represent her work.

“If I wanted to enter something professional,” she said, “I would take one of my husband’s uniforms.”

When she isn’t working on projects in her sewing room, Bryant enjoys scrapbooking and flying remote-controlled helicopters and airplanes with her husband. She has also recently begun learning how to quilt.

Bryant said she is looking forward to seeing what other people exhibit, because other exhibits help inspire her.

After exhibiting her projects, Bryant plans to enjoy the other festivities offered at the fair.

“I’m looking forward to the funnel cake,” she said. “County fairs are usually fun.”