Every year, I look at the ribbon winners at the fair with a mix of admiration and envy. With thousands of categories, including flower arranging, painting, vegetable growing, sewing, canning and cake decorating, you would think I could be a prize winner in one. But, sadly, I don’t bake, can or sew. I attempted to grow a watermelon once and ended up with just a long vine, not even close to what I needed to win as the fair’s largest. As much as I love the State Fair, blue ribbons don’t seem like a reasonable goal for me.
My children also enjoy visiting the competitive exhibits at the fair, especially the entries done by fellow youth. We take time to visit the LEGO entries in the Hobbies and Handicrafts Building, the decorated apple, pumpkin and sweet potatoes in the Exposition Center and the gourd decorating and flower arranging at the Flower Show. Each year, they leave telling me how much they want to compete at the fair and that next year they are going to enter a competition. This might finally be the year they do it.
The State Fair offers a slew of competitions for youth ages 4 and up. A quick look through the premium book shows competitions including apple, pumpkin and sweet potato decorating, an essay competition, flower arranging, sewing, cookie decorating and more. Deadlines and ages for participation vary per competition and are listed in the general rules for each category in the premium book. Most competitions require entry forms to be submitted in September. The earliest deadline is Sept. 19 (essay competition), and they continue through Oct. 4 (special cooking contests). Most general entries require you to submit your entry form by Sept. 30.
A few youth exhibits from the 2012 State Fair: