LUMBERTON — It may seem to be a sweet job, but judging baked goods at the fair has a serious side.
A panel of three judges on Wednesday tasted and examined entries in the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair’s King Arthur Flour baking contest.
Adult baking enthusiasts were tasked with baking pies with a crust made with King Arthur Flour while junior competitors were asked to submit brownies.
Janice Fields, contest coordinator, said the judges, Rose Freeman, Gail Bigelow and Angela King, looked at taste, texture and creativity. There is no set criteria for selecting a judge but in Freeman’s case, her experience as a foods teacher made her perfect for the job, Fields said. She and King have judged for several years. Beyond that, Fields said judges have to know how to bake.
“For example, the brownies. We know what a brownie should look like and taste like,” Freeman said. “We don’t want any product that’s overwhelming. You want it to feel good to your palate.”
Bigelow said it’s also important to acknowledge the work that goes into each entry — even the ones that don’t win.
“We are all cooks so we don’t want to crush anyone’s spirit,” Bigelow said. “It’s a lot of effort, just to get it out there and we do appreciate that.”
King said they also want to recognize young people who enjoy cooking.
“We want to encourage them. We’ve tried to give them a little encouragement and a little feedback. They’ve done a really good job this year and put in a lot of effort,” King said.
The contest drew entries in two groups, the youth group ages 15 and under; and adults.
Winners in the adult division were: First place, Jean Heubach; second place, Pam Hamilton; and third place, Ruby Gilchrist. Winners in the youth division were: First place, Reece Hamilton; second place, Henry Greene; and third place, Oliver Greene.
The top winner in the adult category won a $75 gift certificate and the top youth entry won a $50 gift certificate.
Judging in the 4-H Poultry got under way on Wednesday, and is continuing today. Contestants in the chain-saw cutting contest displayed their skills, and senior citizens enjoyed free entry into the fair. Activities included bingo, which drew a large late afternoon crowd.
Gates at the fair open today at 4:30 p.m. Attendees can receive free admission with five cans of food to be donated to Robeson County Church & Community Center Food Pantry.
Fair officials say they are keeping an eye on the forecast ahead of Hurricane Matthew’s arrival this weekend and will decide Friday whether hours on Saturday, the fair’s last day, will be affected. Updates can be found on the Robeson County Fair Facebook page.
For a full schedule of fair events, visit robesoncountyfair.com.