Texas Wesleyan faculty and staff had award-winning food items displayed at the State Fair of Texas this year.
They submitted their entries during the pre-fair competition. The State Fair started Sept. 28 and concluded Oct. 21.
Hannah Owsley, administrative assistant for the Office of the Provost, entered her spicy sweet tomato jam in the vegetable jam in this year’s competition, winning an honorable mention ribbon.
In an email, Owsley wrote it is her first year participating in the State Fair of Texas competitions.
“In the pickle competition, I entered my sweet and spicy pickles which I refer to as my sweet and sassy pickles,” Owsley wrote.
Owsley wrote about becoming interested in participating in the State Fair competition.
“Since I was a little girl, I have wanted to compete in the State Fair competitions,” she wrote. “My grandfather Edward B. Owsley, Jr. showed me the old Rodgers and Hammerstein musical ‘State Fair’ and I was hooked!”
Owsley wrote that she was excited when she discovered that people from Wesleyan were also listed as prizewinners at the State Fair.
“It’s exciting to find other people who are interested in similar things that you do outside of work and class,” she wrote.
She wrote that, surprisingly, her favorite part of participating in State Fair competitions was not winning.
“Once I saw [Connie Whitt-Lambert] was on the winner list, I reached out to her, and she said [Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘State Fair’] is the reason she started entering years ago,” Owsley wrote. “If you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have said my favorite part was the competition and winning, which don’t get me wrong is still pretty high up there, but now my favorite part is the comradeship that it has created. Little did I know I was entering with people I knew and much less that one of them started entering for the same reason I did.”
Connie Whitt-Lambert, professor of theatre, has been participating in the State Fair competitions since 1994.
“I had some peaches that were too ripe to eat, but too good to throw away so I mashed them up, added some sugar and spices, put it all in jars and boiled them in a canner for a while,” she wrote in an email. “I had NEVER done any canning in my life and wasn’t really sure what I’d concocted. So, I called my mom who lived in West Virginia and told her what I’d created. She told me it sounded like I’d made peach butter, and I entered the State Fair just like [the characters] did in [‘State Fair’]. Ironically, I don’t really enjoy cooking so everyone was quite surprised, especially me, when I won the Blue Ribbon that very first year.”
Lambert wrote that she entered the butter competition this year.
“This year I entered ‘Peach Butter’ which received second place in that category, and ‘Pear Butter’ which received honorable mention,” she wrote.
Lambert wrote that over the course of 20 years, she has entered a large range of jams and butter and won more than 40 ribbons.
“I’ve also entered several photographs and won honorable mention twice for photography,” Lambert wrote.
She wrote that she has been awarded 11 first place ribbons, seven second place, 10 third place, one fourth place, and 12 honorable mentions.
Entering State Fair competitions has become a tradition for Lambert.
“I love entering the fair,” she wrote. “It makes me feel like I am a part of a community. The ladies at the entry desk down in the Creative Arts Building know me by now, so it’s like visiting old friends whenever I take my entries. I have fair friends here at Texas Wesleyan like Linda Carroll and Hannah Owsley. It’s nice cheering for each other when we win and commiserating when we don’t.”
Linda Carroll, professor of English, is also a long-time participant of the State Fair competitions.
She wrote in an email that she began participating in competitions 15 years ago.
“I began to enter my own creations: dill pickles, orange marmalade, etc.,” she wrote. “I also, enter photography some years, but I have only won one third place ribbon in photography, which is my favorite category.”
Carroll wrote that she did not enter any State Fair competitions this year, but her family was there to represent.
She wrote that all of her family enters the pre-fair competition of preserves: jellies, jams, and pickles.
“My husband Johnny Carroll entered his preserves and won four ribbons; he usually wins around eight to 10,” she wrote. “Johnny has his recipes in the State Fair Cookbook each year for his first-place preserves. Our daughter [Audrea Carroll-Weimer] usually has one of her recipes in as well.”
Carroll also wrote that her daughter Annette Luke entered a State Fair cooking competition last year with her son Weston Luke.
“The family loved it when Weston beat his mom,” she wrote. “Weston won third and Annette won honorable mention. The competition was like ‘Chopped’ where they received a bag of ingredients and had to prepare a dessert in 30 minutes. Weston’s cake is in this year’s cookbook.”
Carroll encourages people to participate in State Fair competitions.
“Go, have fun!” Carroll wrote. “It does not matter if you get a ribbon or not. The competition is what is fun. Be creative.”