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Woodbury resident Katherine Spicuzza, a sophomore at East Ridge High School, is a semi-finalist in the Minnesota State Fair's Talent Competition, teen division.

Woodbury makes a 'fair' showing

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Every year thousands of people flock to the Minnesota State Fair to see the exhibits and eat some of their favorite foods. But of course, there are also the people who make the fair what it is.

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Several Woodbury residents are involved with the "Great Minnesota get together" in one capacity or another.

Weaving blue ribbons

In recent years, Woodbury residents have shown well at the fair, taking home more than a few blue ribbons.

One Woodbury resident, Katherine Buenger, has seen her fair share of blue ribbons over the years for her weaving products. This year Buenger took home a total of four blue ribbons, on 10 entries.

Buenger said she can't even count how many ribbons she has won over the years since she typically enters between six and 10 pieces.

"I usually get at least one blue ribbon every year though," she said.

Buenger began weaving nine years ago after having been a knitter for many years.

"I decided to take a weaving class and it stuck," she said.

Buenger weaves everything from rag rugs to silk scarves to table linens to dish cloths to baskets.

"Baskets are kind of a new thing this year," she said. "So, I was really excited about those blue ribbons."

Buenger said her favorite aspects of weaving are the color and texture and the people she has met.

Buenger started entering the State Fair eight years ago after having joined the Weavers Guild of Minnesota and helped out with demonstrations at the fair.

"You win a ribbon and it's so exciting," she said.

Buenger said her favorite part about entering the State Fair is the friendly competition she has with her fellow weavers and seeing what everyone else has entered.

"Stealing ideas is kind of fun," she said.

She's got talent

East Ridge High School sophomore Katherine Spicuzza showcased her talents at this year's State Fair in the Talent Competition's teen division.

Spicuzza, a singer, is one of 30 who was named semi-finalists.

"I'm actually really nervous because I know it's a really competitive group and I've never really done it before," she said in an Aug. 24 interview with the Woodbury Bulletin. "It's a new experience."

Spicuzza performed in the semi-finals Friday after auditioning earlier this month with Corinne Bailey Rae's "Breathless."

"It's such a great song," she said. "It has such a great range."

Spicuzza had to perform the same song throughout the competition.

"I'll just try to do something a little different each time to see how much I can stretch the song in terms of ability," she said.

Spicuzza said she has been singing since she was in fourth grade.

"Singing is just a lot of fun," she said. "I'm always singing along with the radio."

Spicuzza said she is a little nervous about the rest of the competition.

"I've performed against some really super amazingly talented people, so I don't know how things are going to play out," she said.

Spicuzza said this year might be the start of a tradition.

"I'll definitely try again because I love doing it," she said. "If I don't win, it's still so much fun to meet so many talented people."

Results released by the Minnesota State Fair indicated that Spicuzza did not move on in the Talent Competition after Friday's semifinals.

Cashells for sale

New to this year's state fair is Woodbury resident Donna Fanning, who will be at home at Heritage Square selling her handmade "cashells."

Fanning began making "cashells," which are painted hollow eggs shells filled with money, back in 2004 when she was continuously shopping for birthday gifts for her six children to bring to birthday parties.

"Gift cards were the old standby, but I wanted something more fun," she said.

"As usual I was in the kitchen with the most recent dilemma of having to get a gift at the last minute when I just thought of putting money in an egg," she said. "Then you have to break the egg to get the money out."

Cashells are made with a machine that cuts a "piggy bank slit" into the egg. Then the eggs contents are extracted, the egg is sterilized and the money is inserted.

"The kids were having a ball with these things," Fanning said.

Cashells became so popular that Fanning started her own business selling the items out of her home and in gift shops.

"I like the creativity that's involved," she said.

It was in 2009 when Fanning submitted her application to the Minnesota State Fair and then this year she got the call -- cashells had made it into Heritage Square.

"There's such a waiting list of people that want into the fair," Fanning said. "I feel so fortunate to be in there."

Fanning said she is bringing a couple thousand eggs, in 24 different designs, to the fair with her this year. Fanning's booth is decorated as a chicken coop.

"I hope this is the first of many years," she said.

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
(651) 702-0976
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