By EMMALEE C. TORISK
It was a good day at the Canfield Fair for Susan Silvashy and her son, Ryan Silvashy.
The Silvashys, both from Canfield, were multiple winners in various food categories, and their creations were on display at the fair’s arts and crafts building.
Susan Silvashy has entered her candy and canned goods at the fair for decades, but she has been canning for even longer, having learned from her mother who did it because it was economical. Her mother-in-law, along with both grandmothers, canned, too.
Out of the hundreds of domestic arts and crafts categories, entries have increased most significantly this year in both crocheting and canning, said Lisa Toy, who has been superintendent of the arts and crafts building for the past 20 years and is in her first year as the fair board’s director of arts and crafts, floral and fine arts.
Toy said she laments the loss of the “old arts,” such as crocheting and canning.
“We just don’t know how to do those anymore,” she said. “We can buy so much, so cheaply. It’s easier to buy it than it is to make it.”
This year, Susan Silvashy won Best of Show in canning for her strawberry marmalade. She also snagged first place for her apple preserves, almond toffee and barbecue sauce.
Susan said she enjoys canning — and canning everything from apple butter, to jalapeno mustard, to pickles — because the process is therapeutic and is almost like “a relaxing therapy.”
But more than that, she likes that she knows precisely what’s going in the jars and also where those ingredients came from, which is often her garden.
Her 33-year-old son said it’s excellent that people are revisiting the almost-forgotten arts of canning, crocheting and baking.
Ryan Silvashy been baking since age 8. This year, he took first place in the general baking division for his molasses oatmeal cookies, along with second place in the men’s baking division for his chocolate cupcakes.
“I like creating something with my own two hands that makes somebody else happy,” he said. “It’s a heck of a lot of fun.”
When Sarah Fishel was younger, she absolutely detested coming into the arts and crafts building.
Now 27, the Greenford resident admitted she loves to check out the needlework, crafts, confections, and baked and canned goods contained within Building 24 — a change of heart that likely has something to do with two of her five entries receiving ribbons.
This year is the first that she’s entered anything at the fair.
“I love the fair, and I’ve been coming every year for forever,” Fishel said. “I thought it would be cool to put stuff in, but I didn’t expect to win.”
Her circular wreath, wrapped in yarn and bedecked with fall-hued felt rosettes, won first place in its category, while a purple pillow composed of crocheted squares took third. Fishel’s other submissions, all crocheted, were a baby blanket, a scarf and a stuffed animal.
Though Fishel started crocheting only about a year and a half ago, she said she already understands the sense of pride that comes from creating something with her own two hands.
“It’s cool to see what you’ve done,” she said. “I didn’t have to go to the store and spend $50 on that. I made it myself.”
Toy is encouraged by the jump in crocheting and canning entries. She attributes it to people passing on these skills to younger generations and also to the Internet, which can be used for both education and inspiration.
For example, Fishel said she and her friends are addicted to Pinterest — a pinboard-style website used to share things such as crochet patterns or canning recipes.
Toy added that canning is making a comeback, as people are beginning to seek out “more natural things.”
That’s why Chris Stark, Fishel’s 29-year-old brother who lives in Lakewood, started canning. He won first place for his strawberry jam and his sweet yeast bread and took third place for his applesauce.
Stark also had never entered his creations at the fair.
He said he prefers to get food when it’s in season, then preserve it through canning. In addition to being cheaper, it’s much tastier, he added.
“In our generation, we realize that we’ve lost all this knowledge,” Stark said. “We want to get it back before the generation that had it is all gone.”