Sunday, October 02, 2011

The State Fair of Texas

It seems the State Fair of Texas is ingrained in my being. As a child, the school system would have Fair Day and Daddy would take off work and we'd go as a family. We took our children and then stopped going for a while. We have recently revived the practice because we have season ticket to the Dallas Summer Musicals and the concluding show is during the Fair.

So we go early the day of the musical and hit the high spots: the Texas Wine Garden, the automobile show, and the Creative Arts building. And most years we'd see the bread baking contest and I'd think: My breads look as good as those.

So this year, I decided to put my yeast where my mouth has been and enter. Alas, the contest wasn't on the same day as the musical, so we'll just have to make two trips, but I was going to participate no matter. I enlisted my husband to help carry and we circled the day in red, so to speak.

You could enter five categories. So I did. No sense in being shy about this. Yeast loaf, white; Yeast loaf, other; Yeast coffeecake; Quick coffeecake; Gingerbread. I pulled out those recipes near and dear to me and made a plan.

The first obstacle was how to carry them. We rigged a box to hold both the gingerbread and the yeast coffeecake. A large shopping bag with handles was enlisted for the three loaves. I printed the recipes, filled in the forms, attached my $2/per to it and went to bed.

The State Fair grounds are one hour and 15 minutes from us in good traffic. Sunday mornings at 7:15, which is when we left, they are virtually vacant. We were not the first people in the parking lot ($15), but we were close. Not having our musical tickets to double as admission, we forked out the senior rate. ($12/per) The baking sign-in started at 9 and we were 8th in line.

Here is where I learned some valuable lessons. Everyone else had a little red wagon in which to carry their baked goods. Presentation may not be everything, but it may be a plus on the subconscious level and I didn't have any. Contestants were putting their entries on glass and in baskets. Mine were on paper plates provided by the judges. You are supposed to pick up your baked goods afterward, so you can get your fancy plates back, but I ask you: Do you want back a baked good which has been sliced and diced and breathed on by multiple people? Do you, as one person in line suggested, intend to freeze it for the holidays?

Yeech! NO! (After it was all over, I went to one of the ladies in charge and donated my entries. Besides, the spouse had thrown away the box and the bag and I couldn't carry anything home.) Lesson number whatever.

Judging takes forever, probably because there were 12 categories and well over 100 entries. Finally, with judging starting at 10:30, we were being given the good news after one. And... drum roll here... I won a ribbon!

Third place in yeast bread, loaf, white. A difficult category I was told. I am pleased. This is the buttermilk bread which I usually make for the Library's Pumpkin Patch Bazaar which this year is next Saturday. And now, I can add "State Fair winner" to the tag!

Would I have liked to have placed in all the categories? You bet! But then, there's always next year.

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