’13 State Fair Round-Up

I can never pass up the Kentucky State Fair. In fact the family usually goes at least twice, since the exhibits change over the course of the week. Different livestock rotate in and out, live performances and exhibitions of various kinds are put on on different days, and then there’s the balloon bender “village” that takes on more color and detail as the week progresses. And then of course there are the corn dogs, which are worth the price of admission all by themselves.

Of course I couldn’t visit the fair without taking in the baking and pastry cases. My girls usually have to pull me out of there as I could spend probably an hour poring over all the breads, cookies and pies. The special-occasion cakes are always worth a look. This year there were some particularly inventive ones. This gum ball machine, for example:

This one of Animal from the Muppets ripping a drum solo was pretty neat. Who would ever think of that? And check that detail!

Speaking of which, a farm scene is nothing new, but look at all those animals, the tractor and such. All hand made from gum paste.

I’d never seen a cake suspended in mid air before. The physics alone impressed me.

Cakes aside, this is where the money is at the Kentucky State Fair right here: the biscuit case. One year I’m going to gather up the courage to enter this category, as winning best biscuits at the Kentucky State Fair would be coup of the highest order. Left to right here are 1st, 2nd and 3rd place entrants. Some day I’ll go to the fair and break some granny hearts…oh yes I will.

And what’s a trip to the fair without a look at the state’s biggest pumpkin? At 1,034 pounds it’s not a record breaker, but heck, I was impressed. I remember a few years ago a world pumpkin record was set in Massachusetts, just shy of 1700 pounds. They took the squash to New York City for Halloween, carved it and gave away the seeds for kids to plant at home. I didn’t go to New York the next summer as I didn’t want to be around when those suckers started dropping out of high rise window boxes, know what I mean? Seen in background there is this year’s biggest watermelon: 233 pounds.

I would be remiss if I didn’t not give honorable mention to these: Mrs. Juanita Flanagan’s lovely pickled beets. Due to a bureaucratic fluke they just missed being entered at this year’s fair. But friends let me tell you, I’ve been a beet lover all my life, and had these sweet-spicy little miracles been successfully entered and not won first prize, I’d have moved across the river to Indiana in protest.

Next year’s the charm, Juanita! – Joe

12 thoughts on “’13 State Fair Round-Up”

  1. When you do pluck up the courage to break little old ladies’ hearts all across the state of Kentucky, do post the recipe! I’ve tried your biscuit recipe at least three times, and all three times it’s been a miserable failure. Now, I can’t be sure it isn’t the alterations I’ve made to said recipe – I haven’t tried it with White Lily flour, and I’ve used all butter. But each time I made it the dough seemed unworkably crumbly, as if it needed more fat (or perhaps more liquid, but mostly fat). It’s the only time I haven’t had success with one of your recipes, so I’m sure I’ll try it again the next time I visit my family in Georgia, where White Lily is easy to find.

    But there’s no chance that the recipe as written is wrong, is there?

    1. Hey Nicole!

      I’m sorry to hear that! And it is definitely the White Lily thing. As you’ve experienced, not having White Lily messes with the whole thing. But there are some things you can do. You can try simply cutting back a little on the all-purpose flour, about 3 tablespoons for that recipe. Or you can simply use a mixture of cake flour and all-purpose: 1 1/4 cups cake flour and 3/4 cups all-purpose. That should get you in the ball park!

      Let me know how it goes! 😉

      – Joe

  2. Speaking for the entirety of the Hoosier state, Joe, we’d love to have you! And thanks so much for all the work you’ve put into this site…I love it.

    1. Thanks DMC! I know my father would be pleased. He’s not a born Hoosier, but he grew up in Indiana and to him it’s Valhalla. He’d be awfully proud to have his son living there!

      Thanks for the great note!

      – Joe

  3. Sad to say that we’re not Valhalla. I hate to bring politics into baking (no, not really, I don’t), but the typical Hoosier mind is neither wide nor expansive (or expandable).

    You’d increase the scientific acumen by quite a bit.

    I live in an effed up state.

    1. Ha! Well Indy has certainly improved. I went to Depauw University in Greencastle back in the 80’s and Indianapolis was one big nowhere back then. I spent a while roaming around the city recently and was amazed at all the activity there. It ain’t Indian-noplace no more! Seriously though, I doubt many of us would confuse where we live here on Earth with heaven. Not even Kentucky! 😉 But me, I like it.

      Thanks for the comment, DMC!

      – Joe

  4. Ha! Talk is cheap, Joe. What do you mean “breaking little old ladies’ hearts”? Speaking as a senior who is getting ready to go for a 3rd blue ribbon at the NM State Fair (in cookies), I am calling you out! You have all year to practice for next year. The rest of us put it in our calendars months ahead of time and subject our families and friends to endless focus groups. Then they are sad when the focus groups abruptly end after State Fair.

    By the way, this Microsoft ad at the bottom makes it really tricky to post a comment.

    1. Hey Melinda!

      Not trying to open up a new front in the generational baking wars! Guess I’d better stay clear of New Mexico next summer is my feeling. 😉

      Yes I’m trying to get that ad taken off. Thanks for the reminder though, my add network needs constant badgering!

      – Joe

    2. Hope you got a ribbon. We didn’t go this year but the food competition has always been a stop since I was a kid. before they moved to AZ mom entered a couple of cakes & got a red and a white for decoration but she really wanted ribbons for the cake itself. She never got into it in a big way though but I could see it being an obsession if someone wanted it to be.

  5. You know that little ol granny that has been on Leno et al because she has about a million blue ribbon from the frozen tundra state fair? I live only a few blocks from where she lived & it was an industry for her. She stopped making things she like & focused solely on what swayed the judges. She made a science not of baking but of what it was that caught the judges eye.

    We could argue all day if that was clever, common sense or good cooking, all or none of those things but be aware when you dive in you may well be swimming with Granny Great White and your fine goods would end up as chum.

    1. I don’t rule it out, Frankly! Contests like bake-offs are a cottage industry, full of ringers and full-time contestants that simply travel from one to the other, making their living off of prize money. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if there was a shark or two out there!


      – Joe

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