Former 4-Her is featured exhibitor in Domestic Arts


GREENVILLE — Anna Mae (Longenecker) Johnson was named the featured exhibitor in the Domestic Arts Department this year.

Husband Melvin helped her set up the display in the facility across from the Domestic Arts building on the fairgrounds.

“I’ve been sewing since I was 9,” said Johnson, who had much of her needlework, dolls and quilts on display.

She began attending the Great Darke County Fair as a child in 4-H (Monroe Banners club), then was a helper in the Culinary Arts Department and finally as a Domestic Arts Department worker from 2014-17.

She specializes in quilting, doll clothes, embroidery applique, crochet, sewing clothes and making cloth dolls. She said she especially enjoys making baby quilts for gifts.

“Her talents as a seamstress are inspiring as every stitch and seam is perfection,” reads an informational sheet at her booth. “Her work is always beautiful in workmanship, subject matter and color.”

It was noted that modesty and humbleness about her work is something that sets her apart, though.

“She always finds the best in other’s work and is interested complimentary and willing to share ideas,” the written profile prepared by Cathy Retterbush reads. “She is an extremely hard worker, willing to tackle whatever task is given to her.”

Johnson credits not only her mother but her home economics teacher at Franklin Monroe School for her skills in sewing. Her mother was a 4-H adviser for the club in which she belonged and taught the girls the Bishop Method for seams and finishes.

Anna Mae’s techniques have served her well and she has won numerous blue, red and white ribbons, since she began entering the Domestic Arts competition in 2012. She finally achieved her goal of winning a rosette in 2018 for a doll in the Miscellaneous Needlework Category.

Sometimes, she designs her own patterns; other times, she is inspired by subjects found in magazines or ideas and fabrics she finds at garage sales. She reportedly has taken pictures and chronicled all her completed projects and has notebook binders filled with ideas for future projects. She usually shops at JoAnn Fabrics or Fourman’s in Arcanum for supplies.

She sews with a Janome, which is found in her organized sewing room.

“I am constantly learning new techniques,” she said. “Most of my projects are given away as gifts.”

When asked about advice for those hesitant to enter the fair competition, she replied “Exhibit your stuff. You are better than you think.”

The Johnsons, married for 60 years, have four children, Brenda Kaufman, Joyce Coddington and Dean and Mark Johnson. There are also seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

The couple lived in Florida for a while until he retired from Ringling Bros. Train recycling center, where he refurbished train cars for circus animals. He now works on tractors. She enjoys reading, sewing, garage sales and traveling to visit family.

The Domestic Arts Department expresses appreciation to Johnson for agreeing to be the featured exhibit.

“We are appreciate and are inspired by her work ethic, her quiet, kind personality and her talent as an artist and crafter,” Retterbush said.

Anna Mae Johnson is shown at the booth that showcases her projects over the years. She was the Domestic Arts Department’s featured exhibitor at the Great Darke County Fair this year. Mae Johnson is shown at the booth that showcases her projects over the years. She was the Domestic Arts Department’s featured exhibitor at the Great Darke County Fair this year. Linda Moody |

By Linda Moody

Contact Staff Writer Linda Moody at [email protected] or at (937)569-4315 ext. 1749. Read more news, features and sports at

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