If you are reading this before Monday, July 25, there is still time to enter the Lebanon Area Fair’s Specialty Baking Contest.

There are four specialty baking contests to choose from. Pennsylvania residents of any age are eligible to enter the Angel Food Cake, Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Contest, and the Chocolate Cake categories. The fourth category, the Cookie, Brownies and Bars Contest, is limited to youth age 18 and younger.  

Unlike almost all of the other competitive exhibits at the Lebanon Area Fair, the Specialty Baking Contests do NOT require pre-registration, and there is no cost to enter. Simply bring your entry (including recipe) to the Fair’s Center Hall on Monday, July 25 from 10 a.m. to noon. Entries will then be judged and the winners will be announced at 2 p.m.

Each of the four contests has a particular and unique set of rules that must be followed.

“It is very important for prospective contestants to consult the rules, so they can follow the requirements regarding ingredients and other specifications, like size, number, recipe, etc,” said Contest Coordinator Rachel Siegel.

The rules sheet also includes the scoring rubric, which will help guide a baker as to what factors the judges consider.

“One helpful comment I have heard from the judges in the past is that bakers should study the scoring rubric to consider the factors and the relative weight that factor plays in the total score,” Siegel said.

“If someone spends all their effort in decoration, but the item doesn’t taste good, has bad texture, or is prepared incorrectly, then it won’t score as well as something that scores well in those categories, but could be spruced up decoration-wise before it proceeds to the State Contest.”

Siegel notes that because some of the Specialty Baking Contests are sponsored at the state level by a trade organization, the individual contest rules may require a baker to use certain ingredients, such as Pennsylvania produced eggs (for the Angel Food Cake Contest), or at least two PA Preferred™ ingredients (for the Cookie, Brownie and Bars Contest).

“The PA source requirements might sound intimidating at first, but when you go to a grocery store, or local market in this area of Pennsylvania, you are likely already looking at and buying products that will fulfilf the requirements because there are so many dairy, egg and other food producers in this part of the state whose products are on our shelves,” said Siegel.

After judging and the announcement of the winners, all the entries and the winning recipes then go on display in West Hall for the remainder of the week. (If you visit the Fair after Monday, stop by the display – you are welcome to copy down or snap a picture of the winning recipe for your future enjoyment!) First place winners will win $20, a rosette, and will represent the Lebanon Area Fair at the 2023 PA Farm Show, where the prize money is $500 for first place. You can’t win if you don’t enter! 

The complete rules for the Special Baking Contest can be found on pages 72 and 73 of the Fair Catalog, or on the Fair’s website (PDF). Questions? Call Rachel Siegel at (717) 274-1197.