Julie Engelhardt's Ribbons

It was about this time last year that I began to consider entering a craft or display at the San Benito County Fair. 

As a long-time fair attendee, I had always admired the talents and creativity of those who entered their products into the different categories. No matter if it was canned foods, quilts, paintings, flower arrangements, or photographs, I would marvel at the participants’ skills. While some people go to the fair for a batter-laden corn dog, or to brave gut-wrentching rides, I always headed to the home arts building. 

When we first moved to Hollister I entered a scrapbook page I had created from pictures I’d taken at my niece’s wedding. I was awarded ‘honorable mention.’ The thought of entering again never really crossed my mind until last June.

Earlier in the year I began making Bundt cakes which soon became a part time hobby. I’d make them for friends and family members as my contribution towards gatherings and potlucks. Then one day it dawned on me that I could enter a cake into the fair. 

Mid-summer rolled around, so I went online to find the entry rules for home arts for the Fair. I scanned the categories until I came across the one I knew I could do: ‘Tricks with a Mix’ in the baking section. I could simply take a packaged cake mix and doctor it up any way I liked. I decided to create the ‘Firecracker Bundt Cake.” It consists of a white cake mix, but the trick is to take one cup of the batter and color it red, and another cup and color it blue, then  you layer it in the pan to make red, white, and blue stripes. The frosting is also dyed those colors, then drizzled across the top of the cake to look like a burst of fireworks. 

The night I entered my cake I was both excited and nervous. I was filled with anticipation, waiting to discover the results.

On the Saturday of the Fair, I learned that I’d not only received first place for my category, but I’d also won Best of Show for Tricks with a MIx. I am now the proud owner of a blue ribbon and a purple one, too. 

I am also proud to say that fellow cake maker and friend, Jennifer Schuler of Hollister, walked away with Best of Show in 2013 for her delightful Pumpkin Minon Cake. This wasn’t Jennifer’s first time entering her cakes. She has been awarded with two Best of Show and one third place prize since 2009. 

Another friend, award-winner Susan Echaore-McDavid, also has experience entering the Fair’s competitions.

“2008 was the first year I entered something into the county fair. I wanted to know what it felt like to participate,” she comments.  “I had started playing around with the camera again, so I decided to enter some of my pictures. Nothing placed, which made me motivated to try again until I earned a ribbon.” She said It took her a few years before her photos started placing, which turned her goal into winning a blue ribbon.

“Last year I decided to enter a couple of floral arrangements in addition to some pictures,” she says, “and wouldn’t you know it, I won a blue ribbon for one of my arrangements.” Reading ‘first place’ next to her name  put a big old grin on her face, she says. “Will I be entering again this year? Yup. Definitely more flower arrangements. Perhaps photos. And, if I have time, I may look for something new to enter. Place setting would be fun, if that’s available.”

If you are interested in entering into any category this year for the 2014 San Benito County Fair, the entry booklet is available online beginning July 11. The best part about entering exhibits into the Fair is that adults and children can participate. Nothing better than coming home with a ribbon!

For more information about the fair, click here.