Is your sweet potato pie a hit at every backyard barbecue? When you’re invited to a potluck, does everyone ask you to bring “that egg dish you do?” If so, it might be time for you to go head to head with other North Carolina cooks and showcase that culinary talent at the 2016 North Carolina Mountain State Fair.
The fair takes place Sept. 9-18 at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher, but the deadline to enter the cooking competitions, with exception of the youth category, is Friday, July 29. The deadline for youth entries is Friday, Aug. 26.
“Cooking competitions are always a crowd favorite and they always produce creative and tasty recipes,” says Ron Stamey, marketing specialist for the WNC Agricultural Center.
Adult and youth (ages 6-19) contests include categories for baked goods and preserved foods. Baked goods may include items such as pies, breads, cakes, cookies and candies. There’s even a subcategory for cooking with honey. Preserved foods categories are equally varied and range from fruits and vegetables to butters, conserves, juices, syrups, pickles and relish, sauces and catsup and more.
Several North Carolina associations and councils are also sponsoring cooking contests. This year, sponsors are offering up to $3,200 in cash prizes, and some winning recipes will have the chance to advance to national competitions. Recipes must be made from scratch with North Carolina ingredients. Sponsors include:
- North Carolina Tomato Growers’ Association. They’re looking for creative uses of tomatoes.
- North Carolina Aquaculture Association: Submit your best mountain trout recipe.
- North Carolina Cattlemen’s Beef Council: Have a great beef appetizer? Now’s your time to put it to the test.
- North Carolina Pork Council: Show off your favorite way to prepare pork — let those creative juices flow.
- North Carolina Egg Association: You’ve got to use six eggs and desserts are not an option.
- North Carolina Pecan Grower’s Association: Feeling nutty? This is your time to shine.
- North Carolina Blueberry Association: As long as you use at least one cup of North Carolina-grown blueberries, you’re good to go.
- North Carolina Dairy Producers Association: It’s all about dairy desserts. Both goat and cow milk products count, as long as they’re produced in North Carolina.
- North Carolina Apple Growers Association: Use two cups of North Carolina-grown apples and think outside the box. The twist is that no desserts are allowed!
- Mast General Store and Lodge Dutch Oven Cook-off: Simmer your way to success.
- North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission: Breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, as long as sweet potato is the main attraction, it’s all fair game.
Cooking contest details:
The North Carolina Mountain State Fair takes place Sept. 9 – 18 at the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher. Discounted advance tickets are on sale through Sept. 8 at the WNC Ag Center, the WNC Farmers Market, and local Ingles stores. For more information, visit www.mountainfair.org or call 687-1414.