WESTMINSTER — This is Emily and Jessica Hester's first year at the 4-H/FFA Fair, and they fooled at least one judge.
It wasn't hard, even though thewoman was taking her judgeship seriously. She wore glasses and peered closely at the house plant arrangements she was evaluating.
But she wasn't ready for two 9-year-olds in green T-shirts and pony tails smiling sweetly above their plants: She only saw one.
Thegirls weren't trying to pull a fast one; they were just standing behind each other in line. When the judge voiced confusion over the two house plants, Jessica, who was the more talkative sister yesterday, was quick to move cheek-to-cheek with Emily and say, "We're twins."
All Dottie Cooper of Walkersville, Frederick County, could do was laugh. She wasn't the first person to be fooled by Jessica and Emily's identical smiles, and she wouldn't be the last, judging by the laughter that erupted from the girls.
If only everyone knew that Jessicahas a freckle on her nose and Emily doesn't, there would be no problem.
The girls, who live near Union Mills, were among 600 4-H'ers exhibiting projects at the fair, which continues until Saturday at theAgriculture Center. The week-long event is the highlight of the yearfor 4-H members. It's a chance to show off work they've done during the past year and have fun, too.
Because Emily and Jessica are new4-H'ers, they found yesterday morning kind of confusing. But they weren't alone among 4-H'ers and parents wandering around the exhibit areas, looking at signs with names and numbers that matched those on the tags attached to projects.
Each twin had entered one craft project Monday -- and both had won blue ribbons. But, yesterday, they eachhad three projects. That meant more lines to stand in -- and long ones, at that.
Their mother, Beth Hester, took a vacation day from her job as a registered nurse at Carroll County General Hospital to come along. She's a former 4-H'er, but said she never exhibited projects at a fair.
She was nervous, too, as the three stood in line to have the red zinnias the girls grew in the back yard judged. They weren't going to get away with anything: One of the judges, Mary Ellen Bay of Uniontown, has done this for years and knows her flowers. She scrutinized the zinnias carefully through the half-glasses perched on her nose.
The girls fidgeted, and their mother looked over their shoulders, straining to hear the judges' comments. The din from the mobof 4-H'ers and their parents made it hard to hear what Bay was saying about the blossoms and leaves.
After the judges examined the blooms for several minutes, they gave Jessica a blue ribbon, or excellent rating, and Emily a red, or very good.
Hester, 36, said her daughters, who have a younger brother and sister, have not competed against each other much.
"God sent them with the same face," she said. "But we've tried really hard to encourage them to be individuals."
The differences show up in small ways, she said. Jessica is more interested in piano lessons and was more diligent about finishing her embroidery project.
"Emily is going to skip through life. She's morehappy-go-lucky," Hester said. "Jessica is more on the serious side.
"They're really very good friends. They have fun sharing with eachother, yet they're different," she said.
Emily is two minutes older, right-handed and a quarter inch shorter. Jessica is left-handed and has the freckle on her nose, which helps 4-H leader Fay F. Gross tell them apart.
The twins are members of the Westminster Eagles 4-H Club, which was formed a couple of years ago. Most members are under 12, Gross said.
Emily and Jessica both enjoy the club, she said.
"When you ask for volunteers, their hands are up first," Gross said.
Their mother said 4-H projects -- baking cookies, for example -- have helped the girls grow and change.
"They are feeling very responsible and proud of themselves" for completing projects, she said. They started out years ago helping her mix cookie dough and now take over the kitchen when they bake, she said.
The family, which includes father, Greg; brother, Paul, 5; and sister Abigail, 2, enjoy all the practice batches of cookies, she said.
Today, the family will find out what the judges think of Emily's peanut butter cookies andJessica's chocolate chips.