Columbiana County families make competing a multigenerational event.
By VERONICA GORLEY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
LISBON -- Susan Mellish of Lisbon learned to cook from her mother and grandmother; now, she's teaching her sons.
"They're very comfortable in the kitchen," she said. "It's something they enjoy doing."
The Columbiana County Fair's baking and craft competitions allow parents to pass on their skills and recipes -- and keep family traditions alive.
"Sometimes when we bake, we use old, old recipes that have been passed down," Mellish's son Tim said.
In fact, two years ago, Mellish won an award for her lasagna -- a recipe from her mother's friend's grandmother.
Baking boys: This year, Tim, 16, won best of show for his brown sugar chocolate cake, and he also entered peanut butter cookies and M & amp;M cookies. He began baking five years ago.
"I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies, and [Mom] was tired, so I said, 'All right, I can do this,'" Tim said.
Now, his mother's not surprised to see him in the kitchen.
"She's like, 'Oh, he's baking again,'" Tim said.
"I only cook for the fairs or when I'm hungry," he admitted, "but I watched my mom a lot when I was younger."
Tim's brother, Chris, 14, won awards for his sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies and bar cookies.
"I did better last year, but you can't always have good years," he said.
Chris also placed second in hobbywork for his red and white model airplane, constructed from tissue paper and balsa wood.
This is the third year the Mellish boys have entered the baking competitions at both the Columbiana and Canfield fairs, and they're already looking forward to competing in the Canfield Fair, which begins Aug. 29.
"A huge baking marathon," Chris dubbed it.
"It's a scary day," Tim said, lowering his blue eyes and shaking his head.
Mrs. Mellish said she enjoys baking with her kids.
"It's just fun to have them there," she said. "They like to do it, and it's less cooking that I have to do."
Getting involved: She has persuaded her nieces to enter the fair for the past two years. This year they entered artwork and cookies for competition. Tess Emerson, 21/2, won best of show for her art.
"'Cause it's fun to compete against people," said Tess' sister Ashley, 11.
Their mother, Melanie Emerson of Leetonia, said she enjoys helping her kids enter the competitions.
"It's fun doing the fair because they get excited beforehand. They've already decided what they're doing for next year," Emerson said. "It really is a family thing."
Additional interests: The Leeson family also enjoys baking together, but they're also interested in canning and photography.
Diane Leeson of East Palestine started entering the county fair competitions four years ago. Her son Cory, 13, and daughter Janelle, 11, entered photos for competition, and Janelle's photo of cats received a third-place ribbon.
In baked goods, Cory entered muffins, and Leeson and Janelle won best of show for canned goods, as well as a number of other prizes this year.
"She does really well in the kitchen," Leeson said of her daughter. "She wanted to help and learn. She thinks it's fun."
Janelle learned her baking skills from her mother, and some of her mom's recipes have been passed down through the generations.
"My mother always cooked," she said. "She would work with me when I was young."
Twins get in on act: Charlene Farmer and her 10-year-old twin daughters, Tara and Brittany, entered baked goods.
"This is the girls' first year, but I've been doing it for awhile," the Lisbon resident said.
This year, Farmer won second place for her zucchini bread and snickerdoodles. Brittany won first place in her creative sweat-shirt competition, and Tara's peanut-butter fudge came in first place.
"We've enjoyed doing it together," Farmer said.
Farmer said that some of the recipes she uses have been passed down from her grandmother, and she learned to cook from her mother.
"We baked all the time," she reminisced. "I kind of hope my kids do that, too. It gives you one-on-one [time] with them."