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WEDNESDAY, AUG. 17, 2011

CONTACT: Nikki Berryman, coordinator of competitive exhibits
N.C. State Fair
(919) 839-4513

N.C. State Fair decorated-cakes contest a winner with the public

RALEIGH -- If a line of people is a measure of a N.C. State Fair contest’s popularity, then there are a couple of clear People’s Choice winners that always seem to draw big crowds: the giant pumpkins and the decorated cakes.

At the cake display, a steady stream of people files past the amateur and professionally decorated cakes. Some designs are sophisticated, multi-tiered creations of whimsy, while others are more simple, reflecting a current event or the likeness of a popular celebrity.

Robin Bilodeau of Chapel Hill is a frequent entrant in the decorated-cake competition and has seen firsthand the attention the cakes garner. She attributes the success in part to people’s fascination with the complexity of the creations on display. Jacquelyn McClelland, a N.C. State University professor and the competition’s superintendent, agrees.

“I think the public likes the contest so much because the cakes are so creative and beautiful to see; they really defy the imagination,” McClelland said.

With the rise of popular television shows such as “Cake Boss” and “Ace of Cakes,” it’s no surprise the decorated cakes competition is one of the most popular at the N.C. State Fair. But there are some behind-the-scenes secrets that the ordinary visitor might not know.

For example, although the techniques used in all entries must be able to be made with real cake, the competition’s organizers encourage entrants to use Styrofoam forms for their creations. This way, the design will last for the fair’s entire 11-day-run.

“They can use real cake if they want,” McClelland said, “but real cake is heavier and can be harder to work with, can fall apart, and of course will not last as long.”

Fairgoers also might not realize how long it takes to produce some of these designs. Some of the cakes, especially those that make heavy use of fondant or gum paste, can take up to a week of full-time work to complete.

Cakes are judged first on their overall appearance, then on technique, design and execution to evaluate the entrant’s decorating abilities and consistency in design. Appearance and technique are each weighted equally.

The first-, second- and third-place winners in each subcategory will take home $25, $15 and $10, respectively. The contest is open to anyone. A completed entry form must be submitted by 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23. Entries can be made online at or through regular mail.

Visitors can check out the cake display in the Education Building near gates 1, 11 and 12. Entries will be on display during the entire 2011 N.C. State Fair, Oct. 13-23.

Whether or not cakes are your thing, Bilodeau suggests that visitors check out the competitions in general. “When it comes to the N.C. State Fair competitions, there’s really something for everyone,” she said.



NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Brian Long, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3005; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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