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Oklahoma State Fair soapmaker takes visitors to another time

At the Oklahoma State Fair, soapmaker Deborraha Burnett uses soap recipes hundreds of years old to bring back memories for visitors.
BY NASREEN IQBAL Niqbal@opubco.com Published: September 14, 2013
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Most of the pathways at the Oklahoma State Fair will lead you to the expected carnival games, midway rides, food vendors and animal attractions.

But enter through Gate 2, take a left into the Centennial Frontier Experience arena and be prepared to embark upon another time period altogether.

Blacksmiths, ranchers and old time pottery makers are a few of the characters who line the arena in 19th century clothing.

Third-generation soapmaker Deborraha Burnett is clad in a prairie skirt and apron, and a white cloth used to keep her silver hair from getting in her face and covering her “Edinburgh blue eyes,” as she calls them.

Burnett is proud of her heritage and delighted to share it with those who visit the fair.

Her grandmother, Katherine Burnett, came to the United States from Scotland with the hope of offering her children a quality education. She put herself through nursing school by selling her homemade soap.

Deborraha Burnett learned from her grandmother and has been making her own soap for 60 years.

“More people do this than you think,” she said. “My job here isn't to teach people to make soap, it's to bring back memories.”

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