Mary Ann Lienhart Cross writes about open class food contests at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.
Mary Ann Lienhart Cross
Food & Nutrition
Summer is here and that means county fair time — a wonderful time for making family memories. I love county fairs, from viewing the hard work of 4-Hers and open class exhibitors to watching livestock shows, visiting with friends and, of course, the food.
You can’t go to a fair without eating. Many of the county fairs in the Michiana area have open class competitions that include a variety of baking, cake decorating, outdoor cooking and food contests. At the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, we have several contests in the Home & Family Arts Department which we need you, your family and friends to participate in.
The place to enter is in the food preservation department, which includes canning, drying, flavored vinegars, honey and — for some reason — soap. These items, along with items entered in clothing construction, handicrafts, needlework, quilts, children’s corner, photography and creative arts, are due between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. July 15. Bring your entries to the Home & Family Arts Building on the fairgrounds. Entries cost $1 each or you can pay a $30 entry fee to enter a minimum of five entries and receive five daily fair passes. You may enter up to 20 items by paying the $30 fee. Each additional entry costs $1.
The baking and cake decorating department entries are due from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday, July 18. These items include bread machines, cakes, candy, cookies, pies, crackers, heart-healthy items, muffins, quick breads, yeast breads and cake decorating. Also on July 18 is the president’s baked item. Tim Graber, the 4-H Fair president, has chosen his baked item to be German chocolate cake. Bring your entry from 11 to 11:45 a.m.; there is no entry fee.
There are several special food contests that you can enter. These contests do not require pre-entry and the entry fee is your admission paid at the gate. All of the special contests must be checked in from 11 to 11:45 a.m. unless otherwise noted, with judging beginning at noon in the Home & Family Arts Building:
The first contest, “Celebrate the Year of Popcorn,” is July 20. Enter up to one item in each category.
Monday, July 22, is the “Dairy Delicious” contest. Entries must contain at least two dairy products and be a minimum of six servings.
Tuesday, July 23 is the “Senior Citizens Cookie Baking Contest” with check-in from 9 to 11 a.m. with judging at 11:30. You can enter three kinds of cookies: bar, dropped and formed. You can also enter the “Longest Apple Peel” contest on Tuesday with registration at 11 a.m. For safety reasons, this contest is only open to adults. A bonus is that you have a delicious apple to eat after the contest. This should help balance some of the extra-greasy foods you eat at the fair.
Bring your red potato dish to the HFA building on Wednesday, July 24, for the “Anything Goes with Red Potatoes” contest. Prizes for first through fourth place are being provided by Sweet Corn Charlie Produce.
Friday, July 26, is the “Bursting with Blueberries” contest. This is any recipe in which the major ingredient is blueberries. Blueberry Park is the sponsor for this contest.
If outdoor cooking is your passion, then our Saturday, July 27, contests are for you!.The grilling contests, “Best of Michiana Ribs” and the “Byler-Lienhart Cook-Off” are held in the Lamb Barn with check-in time of 9 a.m. Check-in for “The Great Homemade Ice Cream Crank-Off,” also held on July 27 is from 10 to 11 a.m. with judging at noon in front of the Home & Family Arts Building.
For a complete copy of all the rules visit our office website at www.extension.purdue.edu/elkhart and click on the 2013 Open Class HFA Booklet under “Hot Topics.” A copy of the booklet can also be obtained from the Purdue Extension Elkhart County Office on the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds inside Gate 2.
It’s fun to create and enter and sometimes you are fortunate enough to be a prize winner. Many of these contests have ribbon and special prize awards as well as monetary awards. What’s most important is that you participated in a county fair, had some fun, ate some great food and made some memories. I cannot encourage you enough to make the most of the county fair where you live. If nothing else, go there and enjoy the food.
Mary Ann Lienhart Cross is county extension director and an extension educator in health and human sciences at Purdue Extension Elkhart County. She can be reached at 574-533-0554 or firstname.lastname@example.org.