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Kelly McAlea holding her cookies and ribbon

#TraditionsTuesday: Ohio State Fair Creative Arts Program

The 2022 Ohio State Fair wrapped up last weekend, and for today’s #TraditionsTuesday, we’re looking back at the work of artists who were showcased in its Creative Arts program. 

“The Ohio State Fair’s Creative Arts program provides Ohioans a place to compete and showcase their arts, crafts, and culinary skills,” said Creative Arts Director Erin Birum. “The exhibit combines live competitions, demonstrations, and hands-on instruction, with a goal of inspiring and educating the public about creative traditions and the tremendous evolution happening in creative arts today.” In this year’s exhibition, there were more than 2,500 entries, and approximately $27,000 was awarded to winners. 

The Creative Arts program featured the work of these and many other artists: 

  • Andi Williams, Crochet. Wooster, Wayne County 
  • Meta Van Nostran, Quilt. Athens, Athens County 
  • Kelly McAlea, Cookies. Columbus, Ohio - 3rd Place 
  • Jolene Dyer, Scrapbook Art. Wooster, Wayne County - Best of Show 
  • Sherri L. Love, Decorated Box Lid. Gahanna, Franklin County - 1st Place 
  • Michael C. Moscato, Brillo “Back to Wonderland.” Gahanna, Franklin County - 3rd Place 
  • Lana Poe, Professional Decorated Cake. Johnstown, Licking County - Best of Show 
  • Sarah Hodge, Wedding Cake Theme “What’s Lurking in Wonderland?” Cleveland, Cuyahoga County 
View photos of each artist's work on our Facebook or Instagram.
A few of our featured artists were kind enough to share the stories behind their entries. 

Meta Van Nostran 

“My mother gave me a box of hankies that she and her sister and a sister-in-law gave as presents to one another in the 1940s and 1950s. She also gave me a box of Workbasket magazines. Each hankie basket is embroidered over little Workbasket transfers. This quilt was started several years ago, but due to COVID, I was finally able to stay home long enough to complete it.'

“The border was inspired by Marie Webster. She was the first quilt artist to have a quilt pattern published in a women’s magazine, the Ladies Home Journal in 1911. Throughout the early twentieth century, she designed and sold her patterns for floral appliqués with scallop borders. Her home in Marion, Indiana is now the Quilter’s Hall of Fame."

“This quilt is a tribute to the women in my life who inspired me to quilt. My mother, Harriet, and her sister, Marie, quilted together in their later years and finished my first quilt (I began in high school) in the 1980s. Aunt Marie had a quilt on the frame when she passed at age 95."

“Hand quilting is a fine craft that takes time and diligence to do well. It is not fashionable today in the world of modern and art quilting, but only hand quilting makes a soft, huggable quilt.” 

Kelly McAlea 

“The cookies that you photographed at the Ohio State Fair are Key lime cookies. They were originally cut-out Cookies from a recipe passed down to me from my great-great grandmother. My grandmother baked with me and taught me how to make the cookies. And I have taught my daughter how to make them. I competed with them the first time at the Ohio State Fair in 2017 (shaped like watermelon). I competed again with them in 2019 in two categories: cookies (pastel sprinkles) and Family Heirloom Recipe (star-shaped). They have never previously won a ribbon in the cookie category, but they placed second in the Family Heirloom Recipe."

“Previous to competing with the cookies, my family celebrates St. Patrick's Day, and I would make the cookies for all of our parties and as gifts for family and friends. While my grandmother was alive, she would bake (and my grandfather would frost) and ship hundreds of cookies to their grandchildren at Christmas."

“I believed this year I needed to put a modern twist on an old classic and experimented with my grandmother's original recipe. My family has ties to Key West, and we have always enjoyed a good Key lime pie. I used Nellie & Joe's brand Key lime juice in my updated cookie recipe. "

“I am filled with so much joy to have the cookies win a ribbon at the Fair. And I am grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to share how they got there.” 

EXPAND: Read more about the annual Brillo pad art competition in this 2016 article from Columbus Monthly featuring artist Michael C. Moscato: 

EXPERIENCE: Director Erin Birum encourages artists to start thinking about their entries for next year: “Creatives of all skill levels who may not have entered this year are encouraged to consider participating for the very first time next year in 2023.” Learn more at

EXPLORE: If you’re looking to learn a new craft in Columbus, home of the Ohio State Fair, check out the Cultural Arts Center, part of the Columbus Recreation & Parks Department: 


Article by Cristina Benedetti, folk and traditional arts contractor
Photos provided by the artists and Cristina Benedetti

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