Last year was my first year competing at the Minnesota State Fair and as is my usual mode I didn’t think too deeply before stringing a few ingredients together and calling it a recipe. To win a few ribbons that first time out was, well, super neat. But, having that first taste of success made me anxious about hitting the sophomore slump this time around. I am spending a lot of time this summer concocting recipes that I think have a shot in this year’s Creative Activities and Ag-Hort-Bee contests.
I am beginning to understand that I do my best work when I don’t think too hard about things.
One category I am very excited about entering is the Honey Barbecue Sauce. I played with some flavors this weekend and grilled up a mess of chicken wings. The results were the Best Grilled Chicken Wings Ever. The sauce is sweetened with maple, and it inspired a flavor profile that will be fantastic with honey as well. I’ll let you know how a honey version does at The Fair.
After meeting so many folks standing in the drop off line last year, I realized how special a State Fair Ribbon is. Ribbons are not easy to earn, and some people enter their goods year after year without ever receiving one. The fun is in the journey, and in participating in something that is even bigger than an award-winning coffee cake or preserves made with Grandma’s recipe. When we enter a competition at the State Fair we are channeling the spirits of those people who came before us to make this state what it is. We are not baking or bumbling or bowling alone.
Yes, I get a little hokey when it comes to The Fair and my fellow Fair People, and I feel silly for getting so excited a full two weeks (OH MY GOD ONLY TWO WEEKS AWAY?!) before The Fair begins. Over at Called to the Table I admonish those who are rushing out of summer and into Back to School. I need to abide my own advice.