Longtime fair exhibitor sews for her family

Longtime fair exhibitor sews for her family

It’s time for the Wayne County Fair, and that means Priscilla Gresser’s six grandchildren are starting to give back their Christmas presents.

Traditionally, Priscilla Gresser sews pajamas for all of them and first-day-of-school clothes for the two youngest ones and enters them in the fair. She has also made Easter dresses for the girls, and this year, the oldest grandson gets a bathrobe.

“They all know to take care of them because grandma wants them back for fair entries,” she said with a smile.

Three of her grandchildren, Logan, Natalie and Autumn Shold, live in Smithville and love to look for the ribbons on their clothes when they come to the fair and visit the Home Economics building, she said. She often gives her grandchildren the ribbons when she returns their gifts.

The Sholds also will be wearing wool outfits sewn by their grandma when they compete in the fair’s Shepherd’s Lead class. Having been a sewer for 40 years, Priscilla Gresser is a longtime participant in the class, which promotes the sheep and wool industry.

She’ll be wearing a wool outfit she has sewn for herself when she leads a sheep in the show at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, in the sheep barn arena.

Gresser grew up in Adams County, where she was an 11-year 4-Her, and met her husband, Ed, a Wayne County native and former 4-Her, while they were students at The Ohio State University. Both were involved in University 4-H and settled in Orrville after they married. They own a small crop farm and house some of the grandchildren’s 4-H animals in their barn.

A retired Green Local Schools guidance counselor, Gresser said she likes to sew because it’s relaxing and it allows her to be creative. When she moved to Wayne County with her husband, she wanted to be involved in the fair in some way, she said, and entering her sewing projects allowed her to do that.

Gresser learned to sew from her mother and in the beginning, “ripped out many more miles (of stitching) than I sewed,” she said.

Her most satisfying fair entries were the wedding dresses she sewed for each of her three daughters. All three dresses received best of show awards. She also made her daughters’ prom dresses until they started sewing their own.

“It was fun to do,” she said.

As a newlywed, she made most of her own clothes and some for her husband as a way to save money, she said, but these days she can buy them cheaper in the store. She now concentrates on sewing for her grandchildren, three of whom live in Wilmore, Kentucky — James, Lydia and Jonah Evans — and projects for her home such as curtains, drapes and pillows.

She’s always striving for perfection in all her sewing projects, she said, and remembers her friend Cheryl Koehler once told her that all of her sewing projects “are done with fair quality.”

She shops for unique fabrics when she travels. Her skirt for this year’s Shepherd’s lead class is made from a wool fabric she purchased in Ireland.

“I’m excited about that,” she said.

Gresser has been an adviser for the Smithie Whiz Kids 4-H Club for 35 years and serves on the Building 10 4-H Committee, which oversees still projects and Family and Consumer Sciences projects. She also is a volunteer organist for the Smithville United Methodist Church.

She may consider a new sewing venture in the future.

“In my retirement, I’m going to quilt,” she said.