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One woman dominated the awards at a Virginia county fair. Then the internet went wild

Anne Dutriez, of Maison Dutriez - A la Lorraine, holds jars of redcurrant jam, made by deseeding each berry with a goose quill, on September 5, 2017, in Bar-le-Duc, northeastern France. The redcurrant jam of Bar-Le-Duc, a luxury sweet sold at 200 euros per kg, is made according to an ultra-secret recipe, known today by only one person. / AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Anne Dutriez, of Maison Dutriez - A la Lorraine, holds jars of redcurrant jam, made by deseeding each berry with a goose quill, on September 5, 2017, in Bar-le-Duc, northeastern France. The redcurrant jam of Bar-Le-Duc, a luxury sweet sold at 200 euros per kg, is made according to an ultra-secret recipe, known today by only one person. / AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images)
https://ondemand.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/atc/2022/07/20220706_atc_the_internet_tracks_down_a_woman_who_won_big_at_a_fair.mp3?orgId=1&topicId=1003&d=121&story=1110242519&ft=nprml&f=1001

Deep in southwest Virginia, there's a county fair where, last month, one woman won first, second and third place for best cookies.

She also swept all three awards for candy and for savory bread.

In fact, she won the blue ribbon for cake, pie, brownie, sweet bread and best overall baked good (that was strawberry fudge.)

It didn't stop there.

She also won for canned tomatoes, canned corn, pickled peppers, sauerkraut, relish, spaghetti sauce and both jelly and jam. Then she took top honors in quilt embroidery. And after the Virginia Kentucky District Fair posted these utterly dominating results to Facebook in June, you guessed it — she went viral.

She was celebrated in a song and on Facebook comments and in plenty of memes, all of which led to one inevitable question: Who exactly is this champion chef, Linda Skeens?

"With online dating and whatnot, I think a lot of girls are pretty good at tracking people down on the internet," said Mason Mousette, host of the HOT 93.3 radio show in Dallas.

Mousette posted a TikTok asking her followers to help find the Linda Skeens.

Skeens' granddaughter saw that and reached out. And using that name, Mousette tracked down a phone number for Linda herself.

"You do realize that everyone on the internet wants you to cook for them," Mousette told her. "Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner — they want you to cook it all for them."

Skeens' reply? "I'm busy cooking for my family."

Skeens shared that she was diagnosed with leukemia in December, but that the treatment she's on is working and that cooking for her friends and family helps. She was flattered by the comparisons to the all-time great athletes, like NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

"Comparing me to Dale Earnhardt, Sr., I said no way I could ever be in his category. He's my hero," she told HOT 93.3.

Perhaps Skeens was being too humble. After all, she admitted that last year at a different county fair, she won 40 ribbons.

That is certainly entering all-time great territory.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.