Nothing Compares

I am a long-time Iowa State Fair food competitor. I love to bake! I love the competition!

Over 30 years ago, I innocently competed with nine different flavors of layer cakes at the state fair. I admit it. I was hooked from the git go!

Dear readers, please realize that the food competition at the Iowa State Fair is the largest of its kind in the entire United States. Over 13,000 entries are annually submitted for competition in over 150 individually sponsored divisions within the open class food department at our state fair. In fact, there are so many sponsored contests in this department that competition begins two days before the state fair’s opening day and busily extends through the ten-day run of the fair.

A personable, young-at-heart Mrs. Arlette Hollister serves as the highly organized open class food superintendent. She and her capable volunteer staff run this department like a well-oiled machine, ensuring the smooth operation of each and every contest each and every year.

Imagine if the Iowa State Fair put out a WANT AD FOR FOOD CONTESTANTS. From personal experience, I believe it would read as follows:

WANTED-PEOPLE OF ALL AGES WITH THESE SKILLS: passionate about baking/cooking; creative; enthusiastic; patient; competitive; seeks self satisfaction and self improvement; zany; hard working; practice, practice, practice; knows grocery store personnel on a first-name basis; needs only 4 hours of sleep or less each night before competition; runs on adrenaline; reads and rereads stringently specific instructions in premium book; prepares entry tags and copies of recipes at 2 a.m.; thankful for patient family; expects larger-than-usual grocery bills all for the sake of creativity; overjoyed to visit with fellow sorority of contestants annually at state fair; aids and assists fellow contestant in need of food garnish, other finishing touch, or moral support; requires chauffeur so that contestant can entertain driver with snoring on round trip to and from state fair; prepares duplicate entries just in case something unforeseen happens to the selected entry prior to check in at state fair; thankful for patient family members (Did I say that already??); accepts judges’ decisions as final; mentors potential and novice contestants.

WARNING: This becomes familial—children and grandchildren get hooked, too!

So there you go. Interested in applying as a state fair food contestant?

Nothing compares to the Iowa State Fair!

Miss NiNi

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