LISBON - The county fair will be honoring veterans this year by giving away patriotic quilts and afghans created in the special category "Operation Forever Grateful."
Sharen Cope, president of the fair board, said the quilt project was started by her in 2010 and was given to purple heart veterans that year. Last year, the quilts honored first responders. This year, the quilts and afghans will be made to honor local veterans from all conflicts.
Cope said she came up with the idea for this project because both of her uncles earned Purple Hearts during their time in the military. Her uncle on her mother's side was killed on the USAT Dorchester when it was sunk. He was only 19, and her uncle on her father's side was taken prisoner at the Battle of Bastogne.
"It's an integral part of my family's military history," she said.
Quilt and afghan exhibitors come from all over, Cope said. To submit a quilt or afghan, entries can be made online or mailed and must be in by Tuesday.
The quilts must be at least 40 by 60 inches (lap robe size) and no larger than a twin size. The size requirement is because of the way they are displayed. The weight of the quilts and afghans gets too heavy once they are larger than a twin. They also must be red, white and blue.
4-H groups have also made no-sew blankets for the project in the past. No-sew is when all the sides are cut and tied rather than sewn together.
The quilts and afghans will be displayed in the Arts and Crafts Building throughout the fair.
Creations will be presented to recipients at a ceremony and dinner on Sept. 8 at the fairgrounds, and following the ceremony will be a pot luck dinner where the makers of the quilts can meet the veterans their creations are going to.
"It's very emotional," Cope said. "Everyone gets to meet and see who is receiving their quilts and it's such a special experience for everyone."
Veterans who wish to be considered for one of the patriotic quilts or afghans created should send their name and contact information to the fair office. Reservists are also eligible. To apply send a name, mailing address, military branch, how long served, and service location to the Columbiana County Fair Office, Attn: Sharen Cope, P.O. Box 356, Lisbon. Any conflict, any service branch is welcomed, and names can be sent in second hand.
"I am hoping any veteran will submit their names, these [quilts and afghans] are very special," she said. "They're made with a lot of love and time, and they're making a nice tribute."
Next year, the quilt project will honor Vietnam veterans.
One of the reasons for this is the fairgrounds will host the Moving Wall, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
The wall will be on display Sept. 11-15, 2014.
"This is very dear to my heart," Cope said. "It was the war of my generation, and one of my childhood friend's names is on the wall."
Cope said to be chosen is a feather in the cap for the board, and they're very proud to host the wall.