PALMETTO -- Forty-five minutes before entry cutoff, Dawn Reif loaded her photography and her daughters' artwork and crafts in her car and raced to Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto.
By 3:50 p.m., just 10 minutes before the 4 p.m. entry cutoff, the girls were waiting at the fairgrounds for Randall Reif, their father, who was putting the handles on the wooden pirate chests he had made from several wooden pallets and wanted to enter into the woodwork portion of the 2013 Manatee County Fair.
Randall Reif came running up the walkway carrying his wood chests with just minutes to spare.
"It's team-building," a huffing and puffing Randall Reif said when asked why he encouraged the entire Reif family to make a fair project this year.
The Reifs' half-dozen or so projects brought the total of entries that came into
the Chaires Building atthe Manatee County Fairgrounds over the weekend to more than 2,000, all of which will be judged and on display for the public tosee during the upcoming10-day fair, said EileenHoffner, director of theArts and Crafts Departmentof the Manatee County Fair.
The 97th fair begins Thursday and runs through Jan. 27.
"Our quality and variety were outstanding this year," Hoffner said.
"We got a lot more entries from men in the area of woodwork and we also had a lot of photography. We also had a huge increase in Legos, which could be because Legoland has opened."
Food came in for judging Saturday and the results will be released Thursday, Hoffner said.
The 2,000-plus arts and crafts entries will be judged Tuesday, Hoffner added.
Madisun Reif, 8, aRowlett Elementary School student, made two woodland critters from pine cones for her craft entries.
"I used the tops of acorns and these little red berries for eyes," Madisun said.
Sarah Reif, 14, Madisun's sister, submitted drawings and also is showing chickens in the youth agriculture division.
Dawn, the girls' mom, took photographs, including one of a flower she raised.
Drawings were popular this year.
Katie Lowe, 12, a home-school student from Parrish, showed why she is the unofficial head of the Taylor Swift Fan Club in Parrish as she produced five 8-by-11-inch pencil drawings of Swift.
"I like her music and she's also kind and generous," Katie said of Swift.
One of the drawings shows Swift in a cat costume.
Katie's mother, Doreen, also submitted several crochet pieces.
Wendy Brown recycled artwork featured shoes from her children, which she called "Redefine Rich."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686, or tweet @RichardDymond.