Marlys Scheevel has entered her art projects at the fair for 55 years. Many of her paintings are not on your typical canvas, but on saws, oars and skillets. But a particular favorite was to paint her wedding shoes.  BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
Marlys Scheevel has entered her art projects at the fair for 55 years. Many of her paintings are not on your typical canvas, but on saws, oars and skillets. But a particular favorite was to paint her wedding shoes. BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
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The Fillmore County Fair has once again come to an end for another year. Many children and adults walked out with exhibits that received grand champion to honorable mention rankings. However, they took away a little more than just their project and a ribbon. They walked away with history in their hands.The Fillmore County Fair has once again come to an end for another year. Many children and adults walked out with exhibits that received grand champion to honorable mention rankings. However, they took away a little more than just their project and a ribbon. They walked away with history in their hands.
Every moment at the fair may be history in the making. While some people may not take notice of it nearly as much as others, each person participating in the competitions have put a lot of time and effort into what they have made. Who knows, maybe in the future they will look back and see the legacy they built up as a result of their hard work.
Marlys Scheevel of Preston is certainly one of those who remembered. Many fairgoers may have seen a banner made out of ribbons decorating a wall in the open class exhibits last week. This particular banner detailed more than 40 years of participation in the fair.
"There are about 200 ribbons on the banner, and I have at least another 200 waiting to be made into another banner," Scheevel stated. "I did not want them to be laying in a box forever. I wanted them to have a purpose, so I designed the banner as a message to people."
Scheevel's entreaty was for younger people, especially kids, to see just what one can do through hard work.
"This is history. It is a legacy that can go on and on. The ribbons can keep a record of what I did and represents the work I put into it," Scheevel noted.
"It's good to get kids interested in something like animals, flowers and art and for them to strive to do better. I thought it was a good way to show the kids what you can do if you work hard," she continued.
There is definitely a vast amount of history represented. Scheevel's exhibits through the years have all been pieces of art which are painted, drawn or burned onto a variety of different items. Though much of her painting is depicted on regular canvas, mounted in a picture frame, she does paint on many other items as well. Such as a large saw blade, a handsaw, an oar, a cast iron skillet and even her own wedding shoes and tree fungus.
"About 75 percent of my art is on canvas. But I have painted on a lot of different things. I painted a picture of our farm on an old milk can," Scheevel commented.
The mediums used are not always the same either. She has dabbled in ink, oil paint, watercolor paint, charcoal and wood burning.
Scheevel's artistic flare emerged back in grade school, somewhere around fourth grade.
"When I got done with my schoolwork, I asked to go draw on the chalkboard," she said.
Most of her art is inspired by the painting of Grandma Moses. She even owns a book compiling most, if not all, of Grandma Moses' paintings, which she is very excited about.
However, being inspired does not mean that she does not create her own original work, or see something on a Christmas card she likes and decides to create something different, but similar at the same time.
This vastly talented woman has had several of her paintings displayed in the Branding Iron and area banks at one time or another. Many of the scenes she has found to be the most popular are landscapes, old buildings or windmills.
As for her history in the fair, Scheevel got involved in entering her own art in the fair in 1959. Prior to entering herself, she did lead in 4-H for a few years, eventually going to the state fair. Once she learned the criteria for what could be admitted into the fair, she resolved to enter.
"I made up my mind to enter each category. On average I entered nine entries at each fair and came home with some ribbons," Scheevel noted.
As the years progressed, the number of ribbons she received each year kept increasing, but not all of them were the blue ribbon. This added to the message she hoped to pass on to those who saw her banner of ribbons.
"I did not always get a blue ribbon. I just accepted what I got. I want the kids to be proud of what they get, but if they want to get more, they just need to work harder," Scheevel commented.
Sure enough, all the colors of ribbons are interspersed throughout the banner, adding to its brilliance and brightness. On top of that, each ribbon lists the year it was received and what exhibit it was meant for.
"This is history. People who get many ribbons each year should date the ribbon and tell what it was prize for so that they know what it was all about," she declared.
The project itself was not actually made this year, rather three to four years ago. Furthermore, Scheevel adamantly clarified that she was not the one to put the banner together.
"I had the ribbons, but Jan Poldervaard from Forestville Township helped me with the design and sewing. I just okayed the design," she explained.
After a period of about 10 days to two weeks, the banner neared completion at Poldervaard's home. But with some ribbons still remaining, Scheevel suggested adding the fringe border on the base.
After a few years passed, Scheevel thought of displaying the banner at the fair and hoped it would challenge people and encourage them in their own work. Eventually, she spoke to the ladies in charge of checking out for this year's fair.
"They said I should bring it. One day we had a funeral to go to in Harmony and we brought the banner too. They were fascinated," she said.
So, that was that. She had it displayed at the fair. However, she expressly stipulated that the banner was not to be judged.
"I just wanted to show what can be done through hard work, talent and what can be done over a number of years," she added.
Even after so many years involved in the fair, Scheevel had not retired. She did enter official exhibits besides simply displaying the ribbon banner, but she has started to decrease the amount of projects she delivers to the fair.
"I am going to slow down to more like one or two exhibits," she noted.
However, Scheevel does have a tremendous legacy she is passing on to her own family and those who saw her banner. It displays an impressive history of an artist’s accomplishments, however it also issues a stout challenge that many may find difficult to accept, but also exciting to pursue.