Cakes and cookies and pies — oh my!
A sight to see at the Charles County Fair this week starting on Thursday, the Baked Goods exhibit features a total of 14 different sections — eight in the general section and six in the junior baking and candy section.
This year’s menu will judge and showcase:
• Yeast breads.
• Quick breads.
• Cakes with icing.
• Cakes without icing.
• Decorated cakes.
• Homemade candy.
And the junior section, which is devoted to bakers 16 and under, includes breads, cookies, cakes with icing, cakes without icing, homemade candy and pies.
The fair’s published guide recommends that baked goods “be entered on stiff cardboard or paper plated and covered with saran or plastic film to retain freshness until judged.”
Each section is judged differently. The fair guide outlines the requirements on score cards for the category of baked good. For example, cookies in the adult section are judged by appearance, flavor and texture.
In appearance, cookies must be a “uniform size, not too large, evenly browned.” The flavor most not have an “off-flavor of fat, soda, baking powder, etc.” and the texture should be “fine grain, uniform, tender, crisp or soft, according to type,” which includes but is not limited to brownies, chocolate chip, macaroons, meringue and peanut butter cookies.
There are three superintendents devoted to this department: Pat Bollman, Donna Feaganes and Nancy Elrod. Feaganes is the assistant superintendent for the adult baking section. She first started volunteering when her mother, who used to volunteer for the department, needed some help, she said. She works alongside Bollman — who she said has been working in the department for at least 10 years — in the adult section. Her favorite thing about volunteering for the department is “the people that I work with,” she said. “They’re just nice people and they’re willing to volunteer their time so I admire that in them.”
Elrod is the volunteer for the junior department. She’s been involved in the fair in one way or another since she was a child. She first got involved in the baking department when her siblings, who used to be on the fair board, asked if she wanted to volunteer. Now, she’s been a superintendent for about six years, she said. “Dealing with the young kids is awesome,” Elrod said. “They come in so excited and they’ll end up coming back in there so excited to see it — what they’ve gotten.”
There haven’t been many entries in the last few years, she said, “but we really need more.” The age limit for entries in the junior baking and candy section is 16 years old, meaning some high schoolers are able to enter.
When it comes to awards, each section is designated a monetary awards for first, second, third and sometimes fourth and fifth place. Most first-place awards range from $4 to $8 on average, with the exception of the tiered wedding cake category in the cakes, decorated section. The first-place award for the wedding cake is $20. Judges are brought in from out of the county, Elrod noted.
The fair guide states that one Best in Show will be awarded in the following sections: yeast breads and quick breads; cakes with icing and cakes without icing; cakes, decorated; cookies, homemade candy and pies; and the entirety of the junior section, breads, cookies, cakes with icing, cakes without icing, homemade candy and pies.
Entries are to be submitted on Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 1 to 8 p.m. During the fair, visitors can visit the P.D. Brown Building (Home Arts) in the Greens area to view the entries.
Elrod had a simple message for the participants in the junior section: “Get baking and bring it out.”