Shelley Pokrivka of Seven Valleys won the Blue Ribbon Apple Pie contest at the 2012 York Fair. The contest is one of four Culinary Corner style
Shelley Pokrivka of Seven Valleys won the Blue Ribbon Apple Pie contest at the 2012 York Fair. The contest is one of four Culinary Corner style competitions remaining this year. (York Dispatch file photo)

The first time Dolly Furst entered a cooking competition about eight years ago, she won a blue ribbon at the York Fair.

The Red Lion resident said she'd sometimes enter 11 or 12 contests a year — but for the first time since she started, she won't be participating.

"And it's like, what am I gonna do with my time?" Furst said.

The fair has cut six cooking contests this year: Mediterranean dishes, meatloaf, soup, Italian dishes, Southwest dishes and potpie, said Mike Froehlich, the fair's general manager. The contests that remain are for baked goods and canned and dried products.

The reasons for the cuts were reduced participation and a decline in national sponsors, he said.

Furst ... won’t enter York Fair cooking contests for the first time in years.
Furst ... won't enter York Fair cooking contests for the first time in years.

No more cooking: Furst won a blue ribbon in last year's Italian dishes category, but only a couple of people entered the contest, she said.

"So there's no competition there," she said.

The average cooking competition had about eight participants, and some had more or less than others. The potpie contest had only three entries last year, said Mike Smyser, a director at the fair.

Furst said her passion is cooking, not baking, so she'll switch it up this year and enter a few paintings in the contests at Old Main.

"I always look forward to (cooking) and was very disappointed when they cut it, but I understand why they're doing it," she said.


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Returning contests: Remaining contests include baked products: breads and rolls, cakes, pies, candy and fudge, cookies, miscellaneous home products, holiday candies and molds and decorated items.

There will also be contests for canned fruits, vegetables, meat, pickles, relishes, sauces, juices and vinegar, as well as butters, honey spreads, jams, jellies, marmalades and preserves.

The four competitions that qualify winners for the Pennsylvania Farm Show are the Angel Food Cake Contest; PA Preferred Classic Chocolate Cake Baking Contest; PA Preferred Chocolate Cookie, Brownie or Bar Baking Contest; and the Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Contest.

The first-place prizes for the contests are $75, $75, $50 gift certificate and $20 cash prize, and $200, respectively. The prizes for angel food cake and chocolate cake contests increased this year, with other prizes remaining the same, Smyser said.

Those competitions can see as many as 20 apple pie entries and as few as eight in the chocolate cake contest, he said.

New location, contests: The fair has also added three new contests this year: a sampler gift basket, quickie dinner with menu and "get well soon" basket. Those contests carry first-place prizes of $30, $30 and $50, respectively — considerably more than the average $4-to-$8 first-place prizes for the other contests.

This year, the fair will move all food contests to Horticultural Hall instead of what was Culinary Corner.

"We're just changing the location and some of the focus," Smyser said.

This year, the fair will have all judging for the contests on the first Friday of the fair on Sept. 5, and baked goods will then be on display, he said. Most fairs hold judging in one day instead of throughout the week, which was the case with Culinary Corner, Smyser said.

Those interested in participating may view full contest details and register online until Sept. 1 at www.yorkfair.org.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.