XENIA — A mother-daughter duo managed and judged the baking contest together this year at the Greene County Fair.
Barbara Conklin manages the event every year, one she has been involved in since the time the contest was held outside in a tent on the fairgrounds.
She shared her interests of 4-H and baking with her daughters as they grew up. One daughter, Amy Habig, now judges the contest every few years.
As one of her duties, Conklin assists the contestants when it’s time to put their dishes in the ovens. Most of it’s for safety reasons, Conklin said, but the rest is up to them.
“They make all the decisions — how much time, when it is done. Everything they do is up to them,” she said.
Habig said as a judge she looks for cooking techniques — like measuring items, cracking eggs, practicing food safety and maintaining cleanliness of work area, utensils and hands. She also judges the final product on appearance, texture, tenderness and taste.
During the baking contest in the Assembly Hall July 31, beginners baked french toast, intermediates made buttermilk cornbread, and the senior contestant created a tea biscuit pizza.
“It’s fun, really neat to watch them,” Habig said. “It’s kind of nerve-wracking — it’s different than being at home because of the pressure.”
For the contestants, it’s all a learning process. But Habig said it’s more than that — that cooking skills lend to life skills. Habig listed problem solving, math skills, following instructions and time management all as part of the experience.
“The contestants get to learn the process and how to improve,” Conklin said.
One french-toast-chef did just that.
Logan Arnold, 11, said the hardest part about the contest was cooking in a small space.
But his favorite part was the sharing — and the eating.
“My grandpa definitely enjoyed it,” Arnold said with a grin, when asked if he enjoyed the contest. “(At home) I eat more than I cook.”
Arnold, with his apron in tow, walked away with a blue ribbon.
Another first-timer in the contest was 12-year-old Guinivere Bishop.
Bishop competed in the intermediate round.
There was pressure, she said, but cooking at home with her mom gave her an edge.
Bishop earned first place for her buttermilk cornbread.