Iva Decker prepares pickled beats Thursday at her house in Craig. Decker plans on entering many items in the fair, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 2 to 9.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Iva Decker prepares pickled beats Thursday at her house in Craig. Decker plans on entering many items in the fair, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 2 to 9.

Recipe for success

Entry information

• All Moffat County Fair exhibitors must obtain an exhibitor number, which are available at the Colorado State University Moffat County Extension Office or may be obtained at the time of entry.

• Participants in the Moffat County Fair open class entries must be Moffat County residents.

• See the Moffat County Fair Guide for exhibit rules in each division. Guides are available at the CSU Moffat County Extension Office, 539 Barclay St.

• For more information, call the Moffat County CSU Extension Office at 824-9180.

— Apples, applesauce, apricots, red pitted cherries, sweet black cherries - the list of preserved and canned goods that Moffat County residents can enter in the Moffat County Fair this year goes on.

And on.

Flip a few pages farther in this year's Moffat County Fair Guide, and readers will find a list of handcrafted items residents can enter in the 90th annual event, including weaving, ceramics and even fishing flies.

Longtime Craig resident Iva Decker knows firsthand the variety of items she can enter in the fair this year. She's created many of them for past fairs.

Decker and other former Moffat County Fair participants shared tips they've used in the past to create prize-winning entries. Although their areas of expertise vary, past fair participants agreed that planning, preparation and care are essential for crafting entries that could win a judge's approval.

Quilting

Cheryl Bush, who has participated in the Moffat County Fair intermittently for about 20 years, said cleanliness is key when making handcrafted entries including quilts.

"Your work must be clean," she said. "I can't stress that enough."

Bush said her quilting entries have won about two Grand Champion awards and several Reserve Grand Champion titles in the past.

Bush cautioned against participants restricting themselves to entering projects they've started and completed in a year's time. Any project, regardless of when the crafter started it, can be entered in the fair if it was completed in the past year, she said.

"Don't limit yourself," she said.

Produce

When it comes to submitting homegrown fruits and vegetables, exhibitors should submit entries of similar sizes, Decker said, adding that root and tuber entries, including potatoes and carrots, should be wiped but not washed before entry.

Decker begins preparing her produce entries months in advance, planting her tomato and pepper plants indoors during early-and mid-March, she said.

Photography

Craig resident DeLaine Brown has entered her photography in the Moffat County Fair for about five years. Her entries, which have included landscapes and human and animal portraits, have garnered three Reserve Grand Champion awards in past county fairs.

Brown's preparation for the next County Fair begins almost as soon as the previous one ends.

"I actually think about my pictures throughout the year, from one fair to the next," she said.

Her selection criterion is simple.

"I look for things that are unusual or unique," she said,

She said she encouraged other residents to enter the fair, if only for their own enjoyment.

"The idea isn't to win awards, necessarily," she said. "It's just to participate."

Baked goods

Joanne Roberson, who once won a Grand Champion title for her poppy seed bread, said planning and preparation are essential for successful entries.

"Always do the practice," she said. "Don't do it the night before."

Roberson said she usually begins testing her recipes two weeks to one month before the entry deadline.

She also suggested seeking feedback on a recipe before putting it before a judge.

"The best testers are your family," she said.

Finally, Roberson said she always double-wraps her baked entries - first in clear plastic food wrap, then in tin foil.

Roberson stressed the importance of advanced planning when preparing to enter breads, cakes or other baked edibles.

"Don't wait until the last minute and don't rush," she said. "When you rush, you make mistakes.

"And have fun."

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