FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. —
The Creative Activities Building at the Minnesota State Fair is filled with people's passions.
For Barb Schaller, that passion is canning — and she's really good at it.
“I have been competing since 1981,” Schaller explains.
"This is from 2004. This is the first year that I won the Prestigious Processor of the Pantry Award,” Schaller said while holding up a medal.
Schaller has won this prestigious award 11 times at the Minnesota State Fair.
"It says I'm the best overall canner at the Minnesota State Fair."
The next best canner has won the award three times. So, you could say Schaller is Minnesota’s "canning queen."
“It’s entirely too much fun,” Schaller says.
However, heading into the fair this year….
"There was a point where I wasn't sure if I was going to do it,” Schaller explains.
She recently lost her husband, Rob.
"It's a big change,” Schaller says.
And she wasn't sure if she wanted to put in all the extra work this year, because canning enough items to compete for the top prize takes a lot of work. But after some soul searching, she decided to give it a try, and she submitted 19 entries this year.
"I had great hope for some of my jellies and I was not disappointed."
Twelve of her entries took home ribbons this year, earning Barb another medal for Canner of the Year.
"I was stunned to win five blue ribbons. I just didn’t expect that,” Schaller says.
With renewed energy, she is already thinking about next year, with the fair giving her a fun hobby and a sense of community.
"After Rob passed, I had sympathy cards from at least three of the people here. I see them two days a year and they sent sympathy cards and I thought, you know, they're good people. The Minnesota State Fair is a good thing."
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