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Competitions underway at county fair

Finding the biggest zucchini at Warren County Fair was easy. Judge Stan Taydus looks over a four-footer.

Some jobs are sweeter than others.

Nancy Brown has been judging the teen and pre-teen baked good and canned goods at Warren County Fair for… forever.

On Monday, Brown sampled more than 100 baked goods, mostly cookies. There were 16 entries in the ‘pre-teen chocolate chip cookie’ category – and seven more on the teen side – alone.

Brown paces herself as she begins the judging. She knows there is a lot of sugary goodness ahead of her.

For each entry, she cuts only a sliver – enough to get a taste.

Warren County Fair Judge Mary Denny looks over an undercover cucumber dressed as an ear of corn.

In categories like chocolate chip cookie, she narrows the entries to a group of finalists, then brings them back out for another round.

When taste is not enough, she looks at “how they’re cooked, if they’re uniform size,” and other physical attributes.

Even when there is only one entry in a category, Brown takes a bite.

But, she doesn’t have to taste every entry.

Some of the categories are about decorations. For those, she wants to see a personal effort, not just a good effect.

Teen and pre-teen baked goods and canned goods judge samples the winners from the bread category to determining a best-in-show.

“I really enjoy it,” Brown said.

For the last five or six years, Stan Taydus has judged vegetables at the Fair.

“You look at everything that’s entered and say, ‘Which would I buy?'” Taydus said of his judging technique.

“You look for no blemishes, no marks from harvesting, fresh – not rubbery, no worm holes,” he said.

He picked up two heads of cabbage. Both were the right size, shape, and color. On the underside of one, there was some insect damage. That was a simple way to tell the two apart.

The four-foot long zucchini was the star of the show, and zucchini is one of the most popular categories in terms of numbers of entries.

In the ‘dressed up’ cucumber and potato contest, one entry stood out for the judges.

There are many categories – creativity and originality… you look for that no matter what the category is,” first-year judge Mary Denny said.

A cucumber that had been dressed up as an ear of corn – complete with tiny kernels of slightly different shades of yellow and a husk – was a standout in those respects.

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