By the time judging was completed in mid-September, more than 10,000 Texans had entered this year’s State Fair Creative Arts competition.
And hundreds of the entrants – winners – came from residents of our Lake Highlands, East Dallas and Lakewood neighborhoods.
Anyone who has attended the State Fair has visited the Creative Arts Building. After all, who can resist peeking at a cucumber that looks like Elvis, or eyeing the state’s best blueberry pie recipe. This is what the Creative Arts competition is all about – excellence in categories that make up in creativity what they lack in excitement.
This story highlights three neighborhood winners, and it is followed by a listing of other neighbors who took home ribbons from this year’s State Fair.
Congratulations from the Advocate to our neighborhood Fair winners. And special thanks to Nancy Wiley and Lisa Taylor of the State Fair staff for helping compile these listings.
A life in the theater and a passion for blue-ribbon-winning canned plums may seem like instant culture clash for some. Neighborhood resident and longtime Dallas casting agent Joy Wyse, however, takes equal joy in both pursuits.
Wyse recently retired after 21 years as a talent agent, although she still casts productions and speaks at acting schools. She also won a dozen ribbons in this year’s State Fair food and crafts divisions.
“I’ll tell you how it happened,” Wyse says. “About 10 years ago, my husband Don (a motivational speaker and actor who has appeared at the State Fair Music Hall) and I were looking for a different way to celebrate our anniversary in October.
“We didn’t want to go to the theater or a movie because that’s our business. That would be like working. We started going to the Fair.”
Don Wyse ran a football toss concession at the Fair until four years ago, and Joy Wyse began entering crafts competitions. She took first prize this year for her plums, cherries and new potatoes.
Her grandson, Travis Kindred, will model her Pinnochio costume during the sewing competition, and she will bake her 1991 best-of-show peanut butter cake in the demonstration kitchen.
The Wyse family might have won even more ribbons this year if not for a near-tragic accident, A car struck daughters Donna and Pam outside the Farmer’s Market as they shopped for last-minute food items to complete their canning.
Donna suffered a broken leg but still managed to enter six items. Paula (Travis’ mother), also on crutches, missed the competition entirely.
Joy Wyse says her daughters push her to excel at the Fair, and she’s looking forward to their return during the cooking events.
“I’m a Fair fanatic,” she says.
In the meantime, Wyse says, “I’ve gotta know – what happened with my pomegranate jelly?”
Neighborhood resident Walter Robertson examined plenty of photographs during his 40 years at the Dallas Morning News. He served 25 years as sports editor and executive sports editor.
But until he retired several years ago, Robertson hadn’t considered taking his own pictures. This year, his black and white photo of four gulls on the North Carolina coast, entitle “Eyes Left,” won a first prize at the State Fair.
“One of the gulls looked like a drill sergeant giving orders to the other gulls, who were lined up looking at him,” Robertson says.
“Anybody can take pictures. I still have an awful lot to learn about the technology. Having worked closely with photographers, I did think I had a sense of composition. Cropping (framing the picture) is the secret,” he says.
Encouraged by his success at the Fair, he’s ready to get serious about photography. Robertson plans to set up a dark room in his house.
Each summer, neighborhood resident Mari Madison builds a collection around one treasured family heirloom. When she has the required five items, she enters them in the State Fair antiques competition.
This year, her third at the Fair, she built a collection around her grandmother’s Watkins Flavorings and Seasonings cookbook. She added other entries in antique valentines and Christmas cards, wooden boxes, toys and copper items.
Madison, who works as an art director at an advertising agency, won three blue ribbons and six ribbons overall.
Her first year, Madison entered a hand-beaded Barbie doll wedding dress. Competing at the Fair is “something I wanted to do when I was a little girl. I discovered the Women’s Building and spent three hours there,” she says.