Marietta Herinckx, 71, of Enterprise started a marathon of creativity for a shot at Senior Homemaker of the Year at the Wallowa County Fair the day after the 2017 fair ended.
She knew what she was in for.
“I had friends who had done it in past years, and I pretty much kept it in focus this year,” Herinckx said.
It was intense.
The winner of the coveted prize, which is a bit of money and a lot of bragging rights, must have the most ribbons in four categories: horticulture, food preservation, baked goods and textiles. Competitors also enter other categories, but wins there don’t count toward Homemaker of the Year.
Herinckx’s plan was simple: keep on top of it and make multiple entries for every category. She got off to a good start.
“I started canning things in season immediately,” she said. “Then, I froze fruit for jam, thinking I could can in the winter.”
But even when the plan is good, some leaning into the finish line tape was necessary.
“I made the jam last week!” Herinckx said.
In the end, Herinckx entered 17 items in horticulture, 28 items in food preservation, 11 items in baked goods and 37 items in textile goods. She amassed 182.5 points.
As a comparison, second-place winner Cheryl Jenkins, scored 47 points and third place winner Virginia Daggett scored 46 points.
How does it feel to be Homemaker of the Year?
“The feeling is relief,” Herinckx said. “I can’t enter for Homemaker of the Year for another five years.”
She’ll be busy, nonetheless. Next year she will be president of the Wallowa Mountain Quilters Guild.
“We’re just checking off challenges one after the other,” she said.
Kennison Knifong, 16, of Enterprise, is a Renaissance man — and he’s got the Wallowa County Fair Junior Homemaker of the Year award to prove it. Again.
Again, because this is not the first time Knifong has won Junior Homemaker of the Year. He also won back in 2011 when he was nine.
Kinfong likes a challenge, and there is little he hasn’t put his hand to.
He followed his grandmother’s footsteps with regard to domestic arts, he said. Kennison’s late grandma Linda Knifong won the Homemaker of the Year award in 1989.
Mom Colby Knifong is a dab hand at domestic arts as well, Kennison said. And dad, Kenny, likes to barbecue.
Kennison not only won a mass of blue ribbons in the four categories where wins count toward Homemaker of the Year, he also won a fistful of Best in Show rosettes — for his lattice crust cherry pie, his camouflage rifle scabbard and his farm fresh eggs, for instance.
“It takes a while to make a pie,” he said. “But once it’s made, its so rewarding to know you made it yourself — and then you eat it.”
Kennison also entered his famous lemon bars, pheasant and duck jerky made from birds he hunted on Sunrise Road and a floral arrangement. Other winning entries, which don’t count toward his homemaker award, include blacksmithing work and lathe work.
He learned his blacksmithing from Nathan Thompson at the Flora School Education Center. He learned lathe work last year when the Knifong family spent a year in Australia.
He also showed a pig in the livestock portion of the fair competitions.
The hardest part about competing for Homemaker of the Year is finding the time to prepare the entries, he said.
He’s off the hook for another five years, as an individual can only try for Homemaker of the Year every five years. But don’t expect him to slow down much, because that is not a family trait.