Contests opportunity to show off skills

HUGHESVILLE – From tomatoes to chocolate cake, the 143rd Lycoming County Fair gives those with a green thumb or who like to whip up a new creation a chance to show off their best work.

Deb Steransky, superintendent of the Granger Building, explained that there are about 10 broad categories in the building but within each one there is several subcategories. As she explained, what judges look for in each item depends on what category it’s in.

“It depends on what the item is,” Steransky said. “With the baked goods, they actually taste them except for the decorated cakes.”

When it comes to seeing if you have the county’s best vegetable or fruit, judges will look for consistency in both size and color. Overall, Steransky said, judges want to see a unified and healthy plant. Three judges also taste wine entries from both commercial businesses and amateurs alike.

And although some of the winners in several categories will have the opportunity to take their winning item to the state fair, the county fair has an exhibit that isn’t able to be seen anywhere else: blueberry muffins.

“I just wanted something unique to us, something different. My goal was to promote local produce,” Steransky said on the category that is only found in Lycoming County

The contest is sponsored by Green Barn Berry Farm. She added that the idea of using local “farm fresh” ingredients is found throughout the baked good competitions.

The chocolate cake competition requires participants to use PA Preferred ingredients, which are identified by a special label.

“It supports the economy,” Steransky said.

And while the fruit and vegetable plants mostly are submitted by older people, Steransky said there’s a wide-range of people that compete with the baked goods.

“We have young people that bake, we have older woman that bake,” she said. “The younger people are doing it because, I would guess, they want control over the quality of (food) they’re eating.”

But by growing your own veggies and making your own food from scratch, the quality of food isn’t just better but it may be cheaper. Steransky said some people are pulled towards making their baked goods and such because of the economic benefits, as well.

And when it comes down to it, there always are new participants each year because they think they can do it better.

“A lot of people will say, ‘I could have done that,'” Steransky said.