Orange County Fair Experience 2014/2015

The Orange County Fair is an annual event which dates back to 1889 when it was just a small five-day festival. Over the years it’s grown and added rodeos, a petting zoo, carnival rides, various contests showcasing visual and creative arts, culinary contests, and of course all the fried food you can imagine.

Last year I entered the OC Cupcake Classic, which was a special event for cupcakes only. It was done as a live judging event and I, along with my supporters, spent the afternoon at the fair trying fried food, playing carnival games, drinking beer and waiting for what seemed like forever for the results. Out of 1020 or so entries in about six categories, my Irish Car Bomb cupcake placed 4th in the “chocolate” category and my Cannoli cupcake placed 9th in the “vanilla” category. I’ll stop now and say had I really paid attention to the “vanilla” category thing I might have placed higher if I put a vanilla bean frosting on my cupcake rather than the chocolate frosting I usually make with that cupcake. Live and learn right? Anyway, I was pretty pleased with the outcome and surprised to have placed at all, so I was glad to come home with more than just my “participant” ribbon.

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This year I was dismayed to find out the OC Cupcake Classic was not being held. I was told by OC Fair organizers they try to change the special culinary contests every few years and they decided on different contests for this year. However, I was encouraged to enter the regular culinary arts contests for baking. So I decided to go for it! They had three categories in the cupcake division, fruit, chocolate and other. I took to social media to help me decide which cupcakes I should enter and the overall consensus was a Mango cupcake for “fruit”, the Thin Mint cupcake for “chocolate” and the Maple-Bacon Beer-Batter cupcake for “other”. I had several people as guinea pigs for the Mango cupcakes and made the Thin Mint cupcakes for birthdays and graduation parties earlier in the year with good reviews. Since I first made the Maple-Bacon Beer-Batter cupcake last year people loved it, dubbed it the “Breakfast Cupcake” and said I should definitely enter it in the fair for this year.

I made my entries and dropped them off for judging several days before the fair opened and since I only needed to submit four cupcakes, I sold the rest to friends and family. (Thanks again to all who purchased for always supporting me!)

I went to the opening day of the fair to see the results and was shocked to find the Maple-Bacon Beer-Batter cupcake placed 2nd out of 27 entries in the “other” category! While my other two entries did not place, I did get some good feedback and am already thinking of what cupcakes to enter for next year!

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Participating in the fair the past two years has been not only an exciting experience, but also rewarding. I began baking cupcakes for fun, making them for family desserts and friends parties. However, it has now grown to include making and selling them to people for parties and events. Overall, I think receiving recognition in a public competition has inspired me to learn more about baking and decorating cupcakes and more seriously consider turning a hobby I enjoy into something I can do after I retire from my current career.

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So one day I decided to start a cupcake blog….

FotorCreated Well, like the caption says, one day I decided to start a cupcake blog. I have been making cupcakes for several years now. It started when a dear friend had a birthday and saw Margarita Cupcakes online and asked if I could make those. So I did, and my life has not been the same since. I have truly enjoyed discovering and trying new recipes and changing up ingredients or mixing and matching fillings and frosting to make some of my own creations.

Since this little journey began, I’ve entered several OC Fair competitions, made cupcakes for fundraising events, and even sold cupcakes to people for different occasions. But most importantly I’ve had fun doing it! I enjoy watching people when they try my cupcakes and getting feedback, both positive and not so positive. I’ve had my share of flops or duds, and at least one utter failure, but I think I’ve turned things around on occasion by improvising, and the people enjoying my cupcakes have been none the wiser.

I am planning on using this blog to share my triumphs, failures and ideas with others and also, if I can figure out how, to post links to recipes I’ve used for some of the cupcakes. I have gotten many ideas from Pintrest, the internet, and even Facebook posts people have shared with me. I will always make sure to try to give credit where credit is due for any recipes I post.

I need to thank a few people first…

To my friend Phil Nigash, thanks for your help in starting this blog. When I asked you for your opinion about it I knew you’d provide useful insight and encouragement. However, when you jumped right in with both feet, helping me get a domain name, find wordpress, etc. well that went above and beyond, and since I’ve known you, you’ve always been that way. So, thanks for all the support in this new venture.

To my kids Katie and Matt, thanks for your support and encouragement. When I asked your opinion about starting a blog you were both very supportive and thought it was a good idea, so we’ll see how this goes. Also, thanks to Matt for his help in setting up this first post. I know you’ll need to continue to provide tech support for me as I’m new to all of this.

And finally, thanks to my husband Don and all my family, friends, and co-workers for being my guinea pigs and willingly trying my recipes at Sunday dinners, parties, or just because I sent them over or dropped them by your house. Many of you have encouraged me to enter contests, or purchased cupcakes for occasions or just because I had extra to sell, and I appreciate all of you so much.

Wow, so that’s it my first blog post. Sorry I’m so long winded but you’ll find I’m not a woman of few words. (ha ha) Enjoy!