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By JOHN FRIEDLEIN
HARDIN COUNTY — Rain dampened Shirley Ogden’s plan to haul hay Monday, so she baked a cake.
The one she pulled from her oven was of the Italian cream variety, which she has donated to various groups and sold at auctions. It was also her late husband’s favorite and therefore not always the easiest to make.
She decided to enter the one she baked Monday in the Hardin County Community Fair. That was entry day, though — with a 4 p.m. deadline.
With 15 minutes left, Ogden walked into the exhibit hall holding the cake with cream cheese frosting. And it won.
Ogden’s cake wasn’t the only best-of-show winner with a blue-ribbon story.
Near the dessert display hangs a quilt honoring this area’s most famous son.
The Lincoln Sampler, created by the Elizabethtown-based Stitchers Quilt Guild, not only won at the county fair, but it also was picked as a semifinalist in the American Quilter’s Society’s international contest next month in Nashville.
The collaborative project started when the Hardin County Public Library requested a quilt for its Abraham Lincoln exhibit with one specification — it needed to include the quote: “I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky.”
Lincoln’s family lived on two farms near Hodgenville, in what was then Hardin County but is now present-day LaRue County.
The Stitchers, who studied up on Abe, began the quilt in January. All 60 members were involved, president Brenda Edwards said. “We loved doing it.”
Highlighting events from Lincoln’s life, the quilt includes a log cabin, a boundary oak image from his birthplace home and his silhouette, which, Edwards pointed out, people are likely to remember from their school days when they made Presidents Day cut outs.
It also includes embroidered quotations — such as the one the library requested — that replicate Lincoln’s handwriting.
“This quilt needed to have a message,” Edwards said.
A duplicate hangs in a bicentennial birthday exhibit at the Elizabethtown library.
And it will be part of a two-year traveling Lincoln exhibit, sponsored by the American Quilter’s Society.
Besides the quilt, other best-of-show winners this year included a frilly baby dress, a Ball jar of bright peaches, an Oriental lily and an oversized head of cabbage grown from a starter cup that a plant company had passed out to a local student.
Exhibits will be on display at the fairgrounds through Saturday.
“We have some really talented people in the county,” said Martha Thomas, president of Hardin County Homemakers.
Entries in general, though, were down this year.
While there were more culinary entrants (they received free gift baskets), there were fewer in categories such as garden and fruit. Early rains delayed planting.
Plus: “People don’t want to spend $4 worth of gas to get a $2 ribbon,” Thomas said.
John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746.