All in the Family

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Entering the fair is a tradition for one Selma family

By Megan Lavey / Selma Times – Journal

It’s just ten days until the entries are due for this year’s Central Alabama Fair, and the Striplin Performing Arts Center is bursting with activity as Lucille Killingsworth, her sister, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all prepare to enter the arts and crafts portion of the fair.

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There are at least several hundred items, ranging from quilts and canned goods to plants and woodwork. Currently, Killingsworth and her sister, Ruby Hatchell, are finishing a quilt dedicated to a former member of the University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band. Just feet away from them sit the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, decorating towels with paint.

At least seven to 10 members of the extended family compete in the fair each year, with something in nearly every category. It all began when Wanda Helms, the eldest of Killingsworth’s children, went through a canning phase in 1994.

Helms was encouraged by a friend, Jean Brown, to enter the canned goods in the fair. Entering the contests at the fair quickly became a family project, growing until this year, when Killingsworth and Helms picked up 300 tickets so they can get their items ready for the fair.

Working on fair projects is something that has kept the family together, through times of sorrow and triumph. The money the family won last year at the fair went toward purchasing a tombstone for Killingsworth’s husband, who had recently passed away.

Then, the Friday before Mother’s Day this year, a power surge caused a fire that destroyed Helms’ house – including all of the work they had done for the fair thus far and dozens of tools that are hard to replace, such as the ones used for woodworking.

However, the families perservered. There were some supplies and materials in storage at Killingsworth’s house and everyone started their projects anew, working throughout the summer to make the Sept. 28 deadline.

That day itself will be hectic. In the past, there had been two days where contestants can get their items to the Lion’s Club, but this year there is only one. No one can turn in their items past 5 p.m. on Sept. 28.

This means crunch time for the group, who will spend the week prior to Sept. 28 tagging items so they will be ready to enter. Then, the actual day will be busy with bring dozens of items to the Fair Office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Between the adults and the kids, everyone together usually wins about $700 at the fair.

Then, during the week, they go out use the list of tags they have to see what they’ve won.

For those who want to enter items in this year’s fair, tags are available at the Fair Office every Tuesday in September from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Items must be entered according to the insert that ran in the Times-Journal earlier this month. All items must be tagged and brought to the fair office on Sept. 28 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.