BOX ELDER COUNTY – By Cari Doutre – September 3, 2020
There’s no denying that this year’s Box Elder County Fair was not the same – not even close. State guidelines and mandates issued by Utah made it impossible for the Box Elder County Fair to go on as normal in 2020. Modifications had to be made to prevent further spreading of COVID-19 (coronavirus) resulting in most of this year's events being cancelled.
But it’s impossible to know what Rosalie Yoder would have thought of the 2020 Box Elder County Fair.
Rosalie, a long-time resident of Garland and a long-time volunteer in the Home Arts Department for the Box Elder County Fair, was an all-around lover of everything the county fair has to offer. Sadly, she passed-away on April 5, 2020.
“She just lived for the fair,” said Rachelle Miller, Rosalie’s daughter. “It was the highlight of her year.”
For close to 30 years, Rosalie was a volunteer, including director for several years, in the Home Arts Department for the Box Elder County Fair, and that doesn’t include the many, many years she worked as a volunteer there.
Underneath all those selfless years volunteering with the fair, Rosalie was also a skilled and talented in several home arts – cooking, canning, crafts and much more. Rosalie really did it all but more importantly, she passed on her talent and love for the fair to her children.
Rosalie has five daughters - Tonya Romney, Tammy Ketsdever, Tina Coburn, Rachelle and Shantelle Spackman, and all are as talented and crafty as their mother.
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“If this year had been a traditional fair, it would have been really hard on all of us,” Rachelle said.
Every year Rosalie would spend her days (Wednesday through Saturday) at the fair and every year she found one special entry in the Home Arts Department that caught her eye. Rosalie made sure to tell her family what unique piece of someone’s talent and hard work she found that year.
“She always had an eye for things like that,” said Rachelle. “She found something every year.”
After Rosalie passed-away her children decided that they wanted to do something that not only honors their mother but also gives back to the community she loved so much. It took a little bit of brainstorming to come up with an idea but when it came to them, it was perfect.
Why not give away a ribbon and cash award to one entry in the Home Arts Department at the Box Elder County Fair – and do that for as many years as Rosalie volunteered at the fair?
Not just any entry though. Something Rosalie would have found unique and special, something she would have told her family about. To make things fair, the entrants’ names would not be on the entries allowing a completely unbiased decision.
“Rosie’s Ribbon” became that perfect idea. It expresses their mother’s love for home arts and for the county fair. It also allows her family to honor her and give back in a way that would make Rosalie proud.
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Rosalie’s daughters decided that 2020 would be the first year to give away Rosie’s Ribbon. While the entries in the fair’s home arts department were much fewer than previous years, it wasn’t hard for the sisters to pick the very first recipient of Rosie’s Ribbon.
Jan Davenport was that recipient. Jan just happened to be one of Rosalie’s good friends – not that it made a difference with the sisters’ unbiased system for picking a winner. It was just meant to be.
Jan created a quilt made from vintage hankies she had been collecting throughout the years. Part of her collection included hankies she inherited when her own mother passed-away.
“I was unsure how to use these wonderful treasures. Then one day I saw a quilt video from Missouri Star Quilt Co. that was made from hexagon pieces. That was my inspiration,” Jan wrote on her quilt displayed at the 2020 Box Elder County Fair naming it "My Hexagon Hanky Quilt" and dedicating it to her mother.
What makes this quilt so unique are the historical and personal stories behind the hankies. One of the hankies was from Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation day from 1955. It was brought home by Jan’s uncle who was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England during this historic event.
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“Jan came up with a way to take all those hankies from all those years and make something into it to keep forever,” Rachelle said.
Better yet was the way the sisters were able to tell Jan that she was the first recipient of Rosie’s Ribbon.
“We were able to tell Jan in person. We all cried,” Rachelle said.
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After Jan received Rosie’s Ribbon and her cash prize, she did something Rosalie would have done - Jan donated all of the money.
“It was so selfless of her. That was exactly what my mom would have done,” Rachelle added.
Now, or at least for the next many, many years, one lucky entrant in the Box Elder County Fair’s Home Arts Department will receive Rosie’s Ribbon, keeping the memory of Rosalie alive for generations to come.
“She might be gone but we don’t want the memory of her gone,” said Rachelle.
Rosalie’s family hopes the annual ribbon and award grows in popularity allowing years of excitement and memories to be made – all because she loved home arts and she loved the Box Elder County Fair.
“We hope that it becomes the most wanted and coveted ribbon at the fair,” Rachelle said.