County fair offers 'Day of' cooking contests, afghan crocheting and amateur garden contest

The 2010 Merced County Fair said people can enter their favorite appetizer recipe or bake a fruit pie in the “Day of” cooking contests and get free fair admission, crochet an afghan that will be donated to charity or win a big cash prize in the amateur garden competition.

The fair’s Exhibitors’ handbook is filled with hundreds of entry possibilities. The handbooks, including entry forms, are online at www.MercedCountyFair.com and can be picked up at the fair office, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Office hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The free 79-page handbook contains everything you need to know with instructions on how to submit entries in all the fair’s divisions and categories. Those include quilting, ceramics, collections, recycled arts and crafts, table settings, jewelry, wheelbarrow gardens, holiday decorations, largest garden specimens, woodworking, preserved foods, fabric painting, paper airplanes and photography.

The booklet is mailed to everyone who exhibited at the 2008 and 2009 fairs and 4-H and FFA members receive handbooks from club and chapter leaders. The handbook provides all the details on livestock rules and judging.

The fair is June 15-20, and the deadline to submit most entry forms is Thursday, May 13. “Wetlands, Water and Wildlife” is the theme of the 119th annual fair. Many of the entry divisions, including fine arts and amateur gardens, invite exhibitors to create an entry inspired by the fair’s theme.

New to this year’s handbook in home arts is “Afghans for Charity.” Ribbons will be awarded to first through third place entries. After the afghans are judged and exhibited at the fair, they will be donated to a charity of the fair’s choice.

The special “Day of” cooking contests are open to any Merced County amateur cook, and judging is open to the public. Entry forms can be filled out the day of the contest, and an entry admits the exhibitor to the fair free on the contest day. “Appetizer” and “Ultimate Fruit Pie” are new this year, and the other contests are “Chocolate Passion,” “Almond Delights,” “It’s The Cheesecake,” “Salsa” and “Sweet Potato Dish.”

Depending on the entry category, you can win ribbons, prizes and cash awards, the fair said in a news release.

For more information, call (209) 722-1507, e-mail to Info@MercedCountyFair.com or fax at (209) 722-3773. Visit the fair’s Web site, www.MercedCountyFair.com and connect on Facebook and Twitter.