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Blue Ribbons are ‘Always on His Mind’

By: Eugenia Jones

McCreary County native considers his momma’s recipes, lots of fertilizer, and Willie Nelson music as the secrets behind his blue ribbon success

Owen hauled home a load of ribbons from last year’s Kentucky State Fair.

Owen hauled home a load of ribbons from last year’s Kentucky State Fair.

Owen Taylor with his 90 year old mother, Virginia, are experts when it comes to baking pecan pies.

Owen Taylor with his 90 year old mother, Virginia, are experts when it comes to baking pecan pies.

Although Owen Taylor and his wife, Connie, are now residents of Shepherdsville in Bullitt County, Kentucky, their roots are firmly entrenched in McCreary County.  Owen, the son of Woodrow and Virginia Taylor, and Connie, the daughter of U.G.(Dick) and Locia Jones Taylor, spent their childhoods in the Sawyer/Funston area and were high school sweethearts.  Owen, who now travels frequently to McCreary Count to help his ninety year old mother, still likes coming home to the place where he grew up working in the family garden and at the sawmill.

That rural McCreary County upbringing may well have been what led the happily married couple to become successful gardeners and canning enthusiasts.  Their success in gardening and canning has led them to win numerous Kentucky State Fair ribbons for outstanding produce and canned goods.

The numbers tell the story of the Taylors’ success.

Having thirty-one entries in the Bullitt County fair, Owen and Connie walked off with thirty-one ribbons.  Their crowning achievement this past summer was the submission of fifty-four entries at the Kentucky State Fair and their subsequent win of twenty-seven ribbons, ten of which were blue.  The winning of State Fair ribbons has now become a family tradition as the Taylors’ daughter-in-law and granddaughters have also begun entering exhibits and walking away with ribbons.

This past year, Owen canned food items for State Fair competition he had never tried before.

“I entered pickled eggs, pickled peaches, chutney, anything you can think of,” he laughed.  “This is my fourth year of entering the fair, and this is the first year that I went absolutely nuts!”

Some of Owen’s additional entries included chili sauce, chow chow, canned apples, canned okra and tomatoes, and canned yellow tomatoes.  His produce exhibits included cucumbers, green peppers, red potatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, pie pumpkin, and a vegetable display.

Owen has also scored well with his pecan pies, placing more than once at the Kentucky State Fair and walking away with blue ribbons at the Bullitt and Spencer County Fairs.  He’s also mastered the chocolate pie, and this past Thanksgiving, Owen and his mom worked together to make sure the traditional family Thanksgiving Dinner had perfect pies.

Laughing at her son as they discussed the fine art of pecan pie making, ninety year old, Virginia was quick to note,

“Oh goodness!  He’s big on all that fair stuff and those ribbons,” she laughed.  “Really all he did was take my recipes to the State Fair and got himself famous!”

Owen good-naturedly agreed with his mother that her recipes definitely help, and then, when asked to share an additional secret behind his success, Owen grinned.

“My plants listen to Willie a lot!  I figure it’s either got to be the Willie Nelson music, especially “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” or it’s the fact that I use a lot of fertilizer,” Owen chuckled.  “One or both of those two things must really work!”

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