Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ribbons Flowing at the County Fair

I first entered some jam and photos at the county fair three years ago. I got the idea after reading a canning book of blue-ribbon recipes. It got me interested, so I did some research and figured out what kind of exhibits our county fair accepted. In the past two years, I won a few ribbons, enough to make it fun and keep me doing it each year.

This year, Annalee joined in since she met the age requirement for the junior competition.

Our friend John went to the fair on the day it opened and sent me some texts with photos of some of our entries. I could see some really cool looking ribbons, but I had no idea what they were.

When the girls and I finally attended the fair on the third day, we headed straight to the Home Economics building to see just what we had won. Here's where I'm going to brag about Annalee and me. So, if you don't like that, just stop reading now. But, I have just been so excited by our winnings, that I have to share!

This picture was entered in the 'reflections' class. It earned first place and a special award from the director. Truthfully, it was a total fluke that I found this picture in our digital files and thought to put it in this category. I was actually looking in the file from Zelda's recital to see about any pictures of her for the 'portrait' class. When I saw this one, I knew it had potential.

When I took this picture at the county fair, I knew I wanted to enter it in the 'best picture taken at the county fair' class. The lighting was just so perfect. This also earned first place and a special award from the director. Zelda was excited!

She also was excited to see the picture of herself sleeping with a flashlight tagged with a second place ribbon. This was in the 'humorous' class.

My sunset picture from our vacation in Michigan earned a fourth place ribbon in none other than the 'sunset' class, of course.

For the first time this year, I entered two baked goods - in the layer cake and dietary dessert classes. I baked my nearly famous chocolate layer cake; it's both gluten- and dairy-free. In the layer cake class, it earned a second place ribbon. But, better than than, it earned the People's Choice ribbon. That's voted on by volunteers and others working in the Home Ec building once the official judging is completed. A note on the back of the tag said it was 'great! wouldn't know it was gluten-free.' I entered a slice from the same cake in the gluten-free dietary dessert class. It earned a second place ribbon as well.

Here's what all the awards look like:

Then, we checked on Annalee's entries. She earned blue, red and white ribbons. I think I was more excited for her than she was for herself!

Her heart-shaped candy pops earned first place.

A weaving she created in school earned her second place.

And, decorated cupcakes earned her third place.

My guess is that she was disappointed that none of her three pictures received a ribbon. But, we have about 11 months to work on her photography skills before entries are due for next year.

After all that, I was geared up for the Ghiradelli Best Chocolate Dessert Competition, a free contest that was held on Sunday, the last day of the fair. I actually baked my s'mores cookie bar recipe twice, trying to get it just right. I made it gluten-free; I couldn't make it dairy-free since Ghiradelli chocolate has milk in it - yes, even the dark chocolate. So, I didn't really get to enjoy it, but that's ok. We waited and waited while the judges tasted each of the entries. When they got to my bars, I could lip read enough to know they were surprised that it was gluten-free and one said she never would have known that. In the end, three other desserts won the great cash prizes and gift baskets. It was a fun and educational experience. And, even though I don't eat Ghiradelli, I'm already considering what recipe to work on for next year's competition. The cash prize is calling my name!

When all was said and done, it cost us $51 for all our entries; then, we received checks totalling $60. So, you could say we are money ahead. But, the entry fees are just the cost of entering the competition, not the cost of creating our entries themselves. When you figure in the cost of baking and canning ingredients, photo paper, mounting materials, etc., it cost us money. But, hey, that's not what this is about. For us, this was about doing things we love, sharing them with others who have an appreciation for these things and then being recognized for those efforts. Actually, then, I guess we came out ahead.

Next year, I'm aiming higher. I would like to win the most points for entries in a single division to earn a champion rosette...

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