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From Sew to Show: Long Time Exhibitor Celebrates 67th Year at Illinois State Fair

The State Fair is the Olympics for some exhibitors who enter projects in the nearly 100 year old Hobbies, Arts, and Crafts Building. This facility is home to baking, textile exhibits, and more. One person who has been exhibiting at the fair is Marian Brockschmidt.

Brockschmidt, 94, is a Springfield resident and is well-known at the Illinois State Fair. This is her 67th year exhibiting at the Illinois State Fair. Overall, Brockschmidt has made roughly 150 quilted items, to be exhibited at the fair, since she began her hobby. This veteran textile exhibitor is “the one to beat” here at the Illinois State Fair, and this year she came to win, entering a total of 21 exhibits.

Within those 21 exhibits, Brockschmidt placed above third in 18 and only two of her projects did not receive a ribbon. Brockschmidt walked away with a total of 8 first place ribbons at the 2016 Illinois State Fair. One of her first place exhibits was a baby quilt she quilted by hand. The baby quilt only took her a couple weeks from start to finish. Another exhibit was a doll that she started working on as soon as the 2015 State Fair concluded.  Out of all of the 67 years she has been exhibiting, this is the first year she has not entered a large quilt; and out of all of her entries she has ever entered, only one quilt was machine quilted.

1948 was the first year Brockschmidt entered an exhibit into the fair. The entry was a Christmas themed embroidery that she had crafted by hand. Although she is known for her all of her textile projects here at the fair, her quilts are very popular, even though she didn’t begin entering quilts until the 1970’s.

Brockschmidt had great mentors growing up who helped teach her to sew. Her mom sewed a lot and her aunt did quite a bit of quilting. It wasn’t until she went to the fair one year that she decided she could do what all of the other exhibitors were doing. She said part of her inspiration for her entries was fueled by some good old fashioned sibling rivalry, as she would try to beat her older sister. Brockschmidt has two older sisters who both lived to be 99 years old.

When asked why she continued to enter projects into the fair she said, “I have done it so many years it’s a hobby…I don’t do it for the monetary reasons.” Brockschmidt likes that she is so well known at the fair because of her exhibits. In response to how she feels when she does not win, she said, “I’m happy for others when they win…I remember how it felt the first time I beat someone.” The person she is referring to beating was the equivalent to who she is today, a long-time reigning champion.  Back then, many people looked up to Marian for her underdog victory.

We encourage everyone to come out to the Illinois State Fair and look at all of Marian Brockschmidt’s exhibits.  They are featured inside the Hobbies Arts and Crafts Building which is open daily during the fair from 8:30am – 8:30pm.  We thank Marian for her dedication to the Illinois State Fair.

The Illinois State Fair runs August 11th-21st.  For more information regarding shows, exhibits, concerts and competitive event results, go online to