The next story in our monthly series, as Jolene’s Sewing School looks back over the past fifteen years!

Starting in 2010, I looked around for a local fair so students could showcase their work. I had lived in Salem in the past and loved attending the Oregon State Fair, and seeing all the sewn pieces on display. It turns out that although Multnomah County tore down their fairgrounds years ago, citizens kept the fair alive through the Friends of Multnomah County Fair, and held it at Oaks Park every year. It was (and still is!) a small fair, but full of all the same opportunities to submit craft work, including sewing. 

I worked with the woman in charge of the sewing department to fill out forms for all the students and help them tag their entries for the proper categories. Students could submit one piece of work per category, and there were a lot of categories! By the second year, we had close to 60 students submitting, which meant our entries were in the hundreds – probably ten times their normal amount! I got smart after a while and made address labels to put on the back of each one to save time. I also learned to hang them all on hangers and use a rolling clothes rack to transport them all. Whew!

Even though it was a lot of organization and work, it was so fun, and students loved the chance to have their pieces seen by others. And for every ribbon they got, they got a bit of money too! It helped the fair out too, because there were a lot more entries and a lot more people coming to see their work at the fair. In the end, almost everyone would come home with a ribbon. They did a great job! 


As Jolene’s Sewing School grew, it became difficult to manage all the submissions. The last year we participated in the fair, we probably had about 300 entries. So when leadership changed suddenly and it wasn’t as well organized, we stopped submitting. 

I’m curious if any of you readers were part of Jolene’s Sewing School back in the day, and participated in the fair? Tell me about your experience! You can also read some articles from the archive about our student submissions and awards here.