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.”
Sherri Copeland, 54, and her mother-in-law Peggy Copeland, 77, came from Tuttle to celebrate their September birthdays.
Peggy Copeland sees the soap being made and memories come tumbling out.
“We'd kill a hog and boil the lard,” she said. “Sometimes we'd save grease all year to make soap. It brings back good memories from when I was a little girl.”
The women pick up a recipe and vow to continue the tradition on their own.
The recipe is for a modern concoction of lye and cold water that dates back 125 years. But the one Burnett makes at the fair is different.
It includes hot water, lye, sodium hydroxide, fat or oil and a natural base of either water or milk. The process, she said, is risky and shouldn't be used by beginning soapmakers.
“It's not what we do now,” she said. “But that doesn't mean it doesn't work. It's been around for 1,500 years.”
To lean more about Deborraha Burnett and her soapmaking business, visit www.