It all began innocently enough a little more than ten years ago. Marjorie Johnson, Belinda Jensen’s favorite fair time baking guest for the last decade, always wowed the crowd with her blue ribbon baking and her gold-medal charm.
Marjorie made Bel laugh like no other, and over time, the big stars began to take notice
Marjorie became a correspondent for Jay Leno on NBC’S Tonight Show. And now, at just 4' 8", Marjorie is, in one word, 'huge.' She makes the funny man of late night even funnier.
Despite the fact that Marjorie is now making the whole world laugh, she hasn't done what many stars before her have done. Marjorie has not forgotten where she came from. And it’s a little place tucked in between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
It is the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
“The fair is just so much fun you know," Marjorie exclaimed as she roamed the State Fair on opening day this year.
Marjorie Johnson is to the Minnesota State Fair what Tiger Woods is to golf. Simply stated, she owns it.
“This has been 32 years of my life, bake, bake, bake!”
In just over two decades, Marjorie has won more than 2,500 ribbons for her baking, more than a 1,000 of them are first place blue.
One would think, by now, winning is no longer everything to Marjorie. One, would be wrong.
“Oh yeah I get really excited, look here!” Marjorie gushes as she shows off this year’s winners. For 2007, Marjorie won seven blue ribbons, and 12 second and third place awards.
“I got a blue ribbon on my raisin bread, on my cinnamon rolls, on my oatmeal muffins and my crackers,” Marjorie explained to the growing crowd that stopped to see her.
And about that crowd; Marjorie is, these days, a big deal. On the streets of the fair, Marjorie turned heads right and left.
“There is the cookie lady,” you could hear people whisper. Others would see her, stop dead in their tracks and scream her name. She is a bonafide star.
Every step she took, there were more fans who wanted autographs, pictures or just some baking advice.
With all of the attention Marjorie attracts now, it’s sad to know that this just might be her last year entering the state fair baking contests. Not by choice, but, by what the state fair rule book says about her new fame.
“I'm gonna be so sad because I've done this 32 years it wouldn't be the state fair if I didn't enter,” Marjorie said when asked if she might not be allowed to enter next year.
You see in two weeks Marjorie's cookbook, 'Blue Ribbon Baking,' will hit the shelves.
State Fair rules say this about baking entries:
“Entries are open to anyone 14 years of age or older, as of the first day of the fair, whose exhibit represents a recreational hobby and is not used as a means of livelihood directly or indirectly; as determined by the Creative Activities superintendent.”
Marjorie’s cook book could sell like hotcakes and that might put her in the professional category, because, it would be her livelihood.
Marjorie is skeptical her book will make her that kind of money.
“It says in the rulebook that it has to be your livelihood, well, I tell you what, it won't pay the rent,” Marjorie said.
But what might pay even the biggest mortgage is Marjorie's new job.
Last April Marjorie began covering major sports events for Jay Leno, like, the MLB All-Star game, the NBA Finals and the X-Games. And she, once again, owned it.
“Why are you so sweaty what have you just done?” she asked professional skateboarder Tony Hawk at the X-Games.
At the NBC finals, Marjorie joked with the biggest of all pro-hoop players that Magic Johnson was her long lost son.
While covering the MLB All-Star game she got the media phobic Barry Bonds to joke with her and eat one of her cookies.
In journalism we’d say that Marjorie Johnson’s got chops. But, just as Marjorie knows that the fair is her home, she keeps her heart for only one man. That man is her husband of 61 years, Lee Johnson.
Lee is Marjorie's perfect match. He’s tall and can reach for the baking bowls. She’s short and can nab something quick when he drops it.
He’s quiet and does well just listening, while Marjorie is chatty and would just as soon talk all day and night
“He's the best husband,” Marjorie said.
“You know I might be a blue ribbon baker but I've got a blue ribbon husband I tell ya.”
(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)