Some thoughts on competing in the Arlington County Fair bake-off, Part II


You can find Part I here.

When I pulled my breads out of the oven on Wednesday night, I was really pleased.  They looked awesome.  I let them cool overnight.

The next morning I woke up and prepared the breads for submission.  They were required to be on white paper plates, and I wrapped the whole thing in large bread bags.  Then I woke up the Little Bread Dudes and we jumped in the car and headed to the Fair venue.


How cute are my dudes?  LBD #1 was really excited about the competition.  We had lots of good conversations about trying your best.

All day Thursday I kept checking the website to see if they announced the winners or that judging was done. Ugh, why was I so nervous? They said they would call the winners that day, but since they didn’t call I knew I hadn’t won any of the big prizes.

On Friday we went to the Fair as a family and I was able to check and see what the results were.


My pesto cheese swirl bread in the corner with the second premium ribbon.

A word about how the awards system works:  the competitive exhibits are divided (from highest to lowest) into departments, then divisions, then sections, then classes.


I forgot to mention: I also submitted a country white bread that was disqualified because I didn’t read the rules carefully enough. Oops!

Anyway, so the Department was 2) Decorated Food Products and Baked Goods.  The Division was G) Adult.  The Section was C) Baked Goods, and the Class was 307) Breads.

So within a class, a first premium and second premium award is given.  All first premium awardees then are eligible to compete at the section level, where champion and reserve champion awards are given.  Champion awardees are eligible to compete at the Department level, where Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion are the highest possible awards at the Fair.

So it goes:

Department – Grand champion and reserve grand champion


Section – champion and reserve champion


Class – first and second premium

Got it?

So I won second place in my class.  Maybe next year I’ll have better luck with my sourdough rye.

Here’s my award-winning pesto cheese swirl bread:


Here’s my poor disqualified Country White Bread 😦


Which they still managed to sample, ha ha!

Here is the winner of the 307) Bread class:


The flour on top in the shape of a rosemary sprig is a nice touch, I have to admit.

The same baker who made this country loaf with garlic and rosemary also made the Department 2) Decorated Food Products and Baked Goods Grand Champion winner, pepperoni rolls:


Besides the award itself, the thing I really like about the judging is that the judges write their comments on the back of the tag.  Last time the judges felt I didn’t bake the breads long enough, so they were a little undercooked in the middle.  This time I made sure that was not the case!

Here’s what they had to say about my pesto cheese bread:


I’m almost prouder of this feedback than I am of the second place ribbon 🙂  It WAS a damn good presentation and they WERE excellent flavors, weren’t they?

Another thing I enjoyed was friends going to the Fair who reported back to me that they visited my bread and saw it in person!  I love you guys.

I’m also really glad I didn’t enter the chocolate babka I had originally thought of, because it would be in competition with this one and MAN that is one fine-looking chocolate babka. How did they even make that double swirl?  Amazing.


not my babka

I don’t really have anything else to say except perhaps that, after four intense days of dumping and feeding, my starter has recovered from its proteolytic state.  Hurray!  I’ve made three loaves of sourdough and they’ve turned out perfectly, and the nice yeasty aroma of healthy starter has returned.




6 thoughts on “Some thoughts on competing in the Arlington County Fair bake-off, Part II

  1. Slow Learner says:

    I think the Fair needs more baking entries. August 16 – 20 next year! (I was surprised the chocolate babka entry with the double swirl was awarded a second place — but I really didn’t take a close look at all of the entries. Maybe you can practice the double-swirl technique. I’d bet you’d have plenty of folks who would like to use up your practice loaves!)


    • thebreadmaiden says:

      I agree- I think they used to have more categories because in 2011 I submitted three breads in three different classes, which I wouldn’t have been able to do this year since there was only one ‘bread’ class.


  2. Melinda Bloom says:

    I hope the person who won first truly had the better tasting bread. Yours looked delicious and I’m sure it was good, but there is no problem is losing to a better bread. Though I guess there is a certain amount of subjectivity involved in anything that involves tasting something. Hope you make it again when you can share it!


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