FLORAL AND FINE ARTS Two new contests challenge artists to race against the clock

A work of art in 20 minutes or even two hours? Fair officials are betting this year's visitors can make it happen.
CANFIELD -- There was something about a race against the clock to create works of art that struck this year's fair officials.
In the Mystery Bag and Amateur Shutter Bug contests, the two newest ventures from the Floral and Fine Arts Building staff, fairgoers must sculpt and glue a new creation or snap pictures within 20 minutes or two hours, respectively.
It's the first time an active approach to art has been used at the fair, said Kathryn Bennett, the building's director.
Usually, the attractions at the fine arts building are passive: Fairgoers stroll down halls of locally painted or sketched artwork. Now, the role of artist has been flipped to the fairgoers, if only for a short time.
"It'll be a creative mess -- we hope," Bennett said, laughing.
"I was just in Spain and saw Picasso's work," she continued. "It shows you can do anything with something."
Mystery Bag: That's what Mystery Bag contestants are being asked to accomplish at 1 p.m. Wednesday and Friday in the Outdoor Arts Gazebo.
Pre-registered participants will be divided into teams of two or three people and will have 20 minutes to get creative. The catch is the materials they'll work with: pipe cleaners, lace, buttons and other household items, with the results being described to a panel of judges.
Winners will be awarded ribbons, and the entries will be displayed in the building throughout fair week.
Shutter Bug: Thursday's Shutter Bug contest challenges amateur photographers to capture the "Spirit of the Canfield Fair" with disposable cameras from 1 to 3 p.m. Entrants must be 16 or older, and only the first 12 people to sign up can participate. Registration, which starts at 12:30 p.m. at the fine arts building, is $2.
While Bennett said judges are expecting colorful midway and animal shots, they'll also keep an eye out for unusual composition or subject matter.
"People say, 'Well, the building looks the same year after year,' and it kind of does," Bennett said. "So we want something different.
"We want real people going out and showing what the fair means to them."
The pictures will be developed and judged Thursday evening, with the winners receiving ribbons and all entries being displayed in the fine arts building.
"Any time you do something that makes you part of the fair, it makes [the fair] yours," Bennett said. "And you can't rule out having fun while doing that."

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