06 October 2013

Berlin Fair Competition Results 2013

I like to enter the local fair, which is hosted by the Lions Club and a big fundraiser of theirs as well as a number of other community groups.  It is a good, community fair full of rides, food which is bad for you but tastes SO good, and competitions for and exhibits of everything from chickens and sheep to baking and photography.

Usually life conspires so that I don't get to the fair except to drop off my items and (except for one year when a friend did the pickups) pick up my items.  Last year I had planned to spend Sunday afternoon there, but a storm moved in and they closed early, so I got there just in time to pick up my items!  This year I determined to go on Saturday night after a music event I was committed to attend.

I made it!  I rode two rides (the really wild scary ones I won't take my nieces on when we go to the North Carolina State Fair in a couple of weeks), and because I had eaten at the music event I wasn't hungry even for my favorite fried potatoes (which I learned as Texas Taters but here are called Butterfly Potatoes), but I did run into a friend who was doing guard duty at one end of one of the display buildings and spent time catching up with her.  Another friend was working hard in one of the main fried dough booths, and I snapped a couple of pictures of her, but didn't have time to say "hi" until the end because the crowds were so thick around it.

Both of my friends are skilled and enter the competitions also.  Lisa, the frycook, received a second and third in photography.  Ann, the guard, received a third in the knitted shawl category and may have had some others on display; her mother, Betty, is very accomplished and had all kinds of ribbons for her items, including shawls, socks, and a hat.

Very insanely, I decided to enter nine items.  Insane because five were baking, and they have to be turned in on Thursday, and I didn't know if work would let me have the time I needed to bake, especially with rehearsals on for "LES MISÉRABLES" so I don't have evenings free!  Also insane because two of the needlework items were not started as of the weekend.
So I expected a couple of ribbons in needlework, and maybe one in baking.  I ended up with NINE, seven of which include money prizes!  This year I am going to remember to get there in time to collect the money - I missed last year because of the early shutdown, and the year before I forgot to get the money before picking up my items.  It's not much, but it pays for yarn!


One thing I found interesting is that although I made these cookies from the same recipe, one took third and one took second.  Ann said it was probably because the ones I entered in the "Natural Baking" category have the pretty designs of sliced almonds on top.

Drop Cookies
Natural Baking
They don't include the white chocolate chips that the drop cooky entry does.  The chips are in the original recipe, which I altered by using half chopped dried apricots and half cranberries.  I wasn't sure the chips count as "natural" so left them out of the others and decided to add the flaked almond topping to make them more interesting.   Because these are gluten-free, I wondered how they would compare to the "regular" cookies in these categories, made with wheat flour.  I think they did well enough.
I tested my Ricotta Pound Cake (a melding of a couple of recipes) on volunteers at the Wadsworth Atheneum for EnvisionFest, and when I dropped it off joked that a couple would be very upset if it did not get a ribbon.  I think they will be happy!

The Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip recipe was a flyby thought - I had eight entries, wondered if I would dare round it up to nine, which is a number I like.  And Serious Eats happened to have just posted it, and I figured that with the seasonal taste and chocolate, it might get some favourable reviews.  I did not use all the spices, just ginger and cloves, and I used a cup of mini-chips instead of two cups of regular sized.

I was a bit sad that my bar cookies recipe didn't do better.  It was based on a recipe from New Zealand, and maybe another jam in the middle would have been more popular - I can try again next year!  I thought they would be marked down on appearance because I rushed and tried to cut them warm, but they did OK in that category.  And the leftovers were happily received at rehearsal on Thursday, after I delivered my entries!
I will start out by saying that I cannot post one entry yet as it is a gift and I don't want the recipient to see it before unwrapping.  I was sad that one took only fourth, and wonder if I should have entered it under "Miscellaneous" instead of the category - nothing I can change about it now! 

The other three took blues (First Place) so I suppose I should be happy over all.  Since I usually make dresses in child sizes, this is intended for a girl named Judith, and I hope it fits - I think it may be a little small.  If so, it will go to a smaller girl and I'll enter a bigger dress next year!  I did several starts-and-stops on this trying to get something I liked.  The top is mostly my own invention and the skirt inspired by one on the Caron website.  I know several friends with little girls and try to spread the items around.  I have no idea why the top ruffle is up on one side in the display.  This makes three years in a row my crocheted dresses won first prize in the category.
I did not intend to enter the sweater this year.  It is from a Mary Maxim kit that I bought on a whim and the original delivery date was October 2nd or after, but it arrived the week before.  I started it on Monday and finished Wednesday - but no button in my box was right.  The closest one was too small to work well.  So on the way to deliver the entries to the fair, I stopped at Joann's and gave myself five minutes to find a button and get out of there.  After a quick debate I chose the one you saw, and when I turned in the sweater two of the ladies exclaimed over how perfect it was.  So I chose wisely!  I will give it to our Assistant Director for his daughter, a cute little blondie.  Although the kit comes in multiple sizes and contained enough yarn for all of them, the pattern was only for size 18-24 months so I couldn't wait - she'll be too big next year.
The last item I can show I started on Sunday and finished Thursday about two hours before the deadline for entries.  When I turned it in one of the ladies predicted it would win a blue ribbon, and she was correct.  Because I was crunched for time the crown is five rows shorter than the pattern directs but it fits my head, although a bit stretchy.  It's going to Mittens for Akkol to distribute at one of the orphanages this winter and I may make one on smaller needles for myself.  I didn't have the pattern yarn so used a ball of wool I had in the stash.  Because it is dark and hard to see on the in situ picture, I've included one that I took at home before delivering the entries, close enough for the pattern to be seen.
Of course, my needles and hooks are not still - there are more items to finish for the M4A fall campaign (socks, shawls, scarves) and holiday gifts to work on.  Even so, I am already planning ahead to next year's entries!