By LisÃ© Zondler, Guest Blogger
It’s that time of year again… time for the San Diego County Fair. The Fair offers some great opportunities for serious foodies, accomplished bakers and budding chefs. I have been participating in baking and cooking competitions at the Fair for many years. Every year I get excited, anticipating the next great recipe adventure I would take on. My introduction into the arena of our hometown exhibition started innocently enough. But let me step back a bit.
The Southern California Exposition in Del Mar is known by locals as the Del Mar Fair. When I was a little girl the expo had a real small hometown feel. We were a small hometown. There were many of the same great experiences at the Fair back then as we have now and many memories of times gone by. There was a time in my memory when the Del Mar Fair had side shows… real side shows. I promise you that all us kids swore that the little old lady introducing the side show was at least a hundred years old. She was a petite little thing, dressed in a long gingham pioneer style dress with a bonnet. She would describe each of the oddities tucked away behind the folds of the heavy canvas tent in detail. We always held our breath as she would describe the last of the curiosities, The 10,000 Year Old Man, a mummified body the best we could figure. Real or fake? We didn’t care. We always waited with great anticipation as the little old woman finished her speech with a scratchy, southern twang, ” and the flesh… is still… on … the bawdy!” We’d all squeal! It was so great. The culinary delights have changed a bit, but you can still get a hot dog on a stick, gingerbread, funnel cakes and Roxy’s, and there are plenty of barn animals to go around.
The Fair began to offer “One Day” baking competitions generally sponsored by major companies like Nestle, Hormel and Land O’ Lakes and offered cash prizes. You used the sponsors product and your entry got you into the Fair for free. One year, very innocently, my mother challenged my sister Monica and me to enter the Land O’ Lakes contest. We could have fallen into the enter a tried and true recipe, a family favorite, or challenge ourselves to experiment and try something new. We all decided to challenge ourselves. That first year out my mom, Ruth, won the Sweepstakes with her Kahlua Brownie Recipe! We were hooked on the competition and we haven’t looked back. Over the years each of us have won in our categories and placed in the sweepstakes by entering contests for Hidden Valley Ranch, Herb Ox and yes, even Spam. I become so inspired by the challenge of the recipe hunt and execution, I began to enter the pre-Fair Home and Hobby exhibitions and over the years, I have done well. I am particularly fond of the lost art of home canning and it has become one my favorite entries of the Fair to date.
Today I have been invited to the Fair for a special award and I am pretty excited. Winning is great, but my favorite part of the Fair competition, is the challenge to try new and unique recipe ideas and techniques… of course a dash of friendly competition and baking with your friends is the best!
It’s All Fair!
Stay tuned for winning recipes and more winning photos….