What To Do When The Local County Fair Judges Cakes Unfairly?

Decorating By jenebnell7 Updated 27 Oct 2011 , 3:03pm by jamawoops

jenebnell7 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:03pm
post #1 of 71

So, my husband and I just moved to northern Virginia, right outside of D.C. about 3 months ago. Last year I entered two cakes in our local county fair where we lived in Maryland and I was very pleased with their judging process. The judges seemed very fair and left me tons of comments on the back of my entry card. THIS year however...the process seems a bit fixed. They say that they don't know who's cakes are who's, but really...who are we kidding. I say that because I entered two cakes. One into the "Strictly Fondant" category and the other into "Any decorated cake" category. My fondant cake was a three tier white cake with gumpaste butterflies. The other cake was also fondant covered, but it was just one small tier, hand painted, (that took about 1.5 hours), and then a shaped an owl to go on top, (rice krispy body), and then covered in fondant and again hand painted to add texture and detail.

My owl cake was in the same category as a simple sheet cake, in the shape of a cross, covered in buttercream. It had a border around it and royal icing flowers and leaves thrown on top. This cross cake was awarded first place & best in show over ALL decorated cakes. THEN...I found out that my three tier fondant cake was the ONLY ONE entered into the "Fondant Only" category. It still received second place. I asked the volunteers in the building about it and they said that if the cake didn't look like it "deserved" a first place ribbon, they wouldn't award one. I even looked on the back of the entry card that was with my cake...looking for judges comments about why they did what they did...NOT ONE SINGLE COMMENT!

I was in the room where all the cakes and other decorated items were, (Cookies, cupcakes...), for about an hour last night, (first time the room was opened after judging had taken place). EVERY single person that walked by looking at the cakes had a confused look on their faces. They were all pointing and comparing my cakes to the one that took "Best in show" and asking why did that one win and not the others. It just amazes me how wrong this judging was.

So, anyway...I tried attaching the pictures of all three cakes, but it won't let me, so I'm including the link to a flickr account I just created with all three pictures.

I'd like to add that, yeah...it's just a county fair, but really??? Even the people walking by with no cake experience could tell that this was totally messed up!!

http:[email protected]/

70 replies
Jennifer353 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:12pm
post #2 of 71

I'm not familar with how county fairs are organised but could you speak to someone on the organising comittee and/or head judge?
I also can't get into flickr (grr work!) but giving you second place even though there was no one else sounds very strange!
Was there many other entries beside your two and the other one?

I assume you haven't had a major run in with all of the judges and organising group or something? (even that shouldnt make a difference)

jenebnell7 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:17pm
post #3 of 71

Hahaha...no run ins with any of the judges....anyone for that matter having anything to do with the fair. We just moved here a little while ago. Seems like I was the only young person entering, (29), everyone else in the adult categories were older women. I guess they aren't down with my "young" designs.

Grrrr....why won't it let me post an attachment??

kimma1299 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:18pm
post #4 of 71

Really, the cross cake really won? There is not even a comparison to you yours.. Sorry this happened to you.

Texas_Rose Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:20pm
post #5 of 71

It sounds like the judges knew the other baker, or they didn't like fondant. If it was a contest for non-professionals and your cakes looked too professional, that might have been the problem too.

Sometimes things happen that we just know aren't fair, and we've got to let them go in order to move on. Personally, I'd think a lot before entering that contest again next year...if there weren't many cakes entered, that might be why, unfair judging over the years.

Valkstar Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:20pm
post #6 of 71

I don't know anything about county fairs but your cakes are far and away better than that cross cake. I wonder if the winner is a relation of a judge or something icon_rolleyes.gif

Davwattie Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:21pm
post #7 of 71

icon_surprised.gif I'm actually speechless!

I cant believe that the cross cake won over yours, I love your owl cake!

Why give a cake second place if yours was the only entry icon_confused.gif

I think something very wrong is going on with their judging panel

jenebnell7 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:23pm
post #8 of 71

For anyone that can't see the flickr photos...I just uploaded all three pictures into my albums. My two and the cross cake.

Mexx Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:25pm
post #9 of 71

...Or maybe the fact that the cake was shaped like a "cross" had something to do with it?

jenebnell7 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:28pm
post #10 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas_Rose

It sounds like the judges knew the other baker, or they didn't like fondant. If it was a contest for non-professionals and your cakes looked too professional, that might have been the problem too.

Sometimes things happen that we just know aren't fair, and we've got to let them go in order to move on. Personally, I'd think a lot before entering that contest again next year...if there weren't many cakes entered, that might be why, unfair judging over the years.




The rules clearly stated, for both categories, any professional level. I thought that was a little odd, but again...the county fair. I shouldn't be penalized just because I'm semi-professional. (Still hard for me to say I'm a pro cause I've only been doing this 2 years) icon_wink.gif

jenebnell7 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:30pm
post #11 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mexx

...Or maybe the fact that the cake was shaped like a "cross" had something to do with it?




This is what everyone is saying on my facebook page. The fact that they are all older women....they like what they like...forget which is actually best.

leafO Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:36pm
post #12 of 71

Your owl cake was so pretty!! I love the painted flowers, it totally should have taken 1st place.

It does seem odd that so few cakes were entered, maybe people stopped entering because of an ongoing judging issue?

Jennifer353 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:38pm
post #13 of 71

Right having looked at the cakes, there is something wrong with the judges. My hunch would be they have been doing it for the last 150 years and they want a very particular thing. A "nice" "sensible" cake. They dont want "young ones with notions" coming to their fair and messing up the status quo. The other person either knows that or thats all they can make. Yours are modern, beautiful and young. (Love your owl one!!)

If you feel like entering again next year enter the most boring cake you can bring yourself to make.

jenebnell7 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:40pm
post #14 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by leafO

Your owl cake was so pretty!! I love the painted flowers, it totally should have taken 1st place.

It does seem odd that so few cakes were entered, maybe people stopped entering because of an ongoing judging issue?




I did come across one girl, looked about my age, and her husband walking through the exibits. They were also looking totally confused at my cake. At that moment I was taking pictures of them, (my evidence, lol), so I told them they were my cakes. She goes, "Yeah...there is some shady stuff going on...that's why I quit volunteering here. Last year was my last year."

mplaidgirl2 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:09pm
post #15 of 71

IT had to have been older people judging. The cross cake is a much older style of cake so its probably what they are used to.... And the religion factor probably factored in too. To be an @ss next year I would come with a cake of jesus on the cross.

Fairytale Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:20pm
post #16 of 71

I judge a lot of cake shows but I can't figure out what the judge(s) were thinking here. I thought your cakes required more skill than the BC cross, and your cakes were well done. Sounds like favoritism on thier part.

I've also entered cakes in the local fair. I've been lucky enough to always win 1st place and one year they hid my basket cake (which won) so that it wouldn't discourage other people from entering. I thought that was crazy and complained to my neighbor, who is the CEO of the fairgrounds. Needless to day they didn't do that again. LOL.

Hope you don't get discouraged. You might consider entering at other fairs.

Bluebelles Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:24pm
post #17 of 71

Your cake was much more creative, and your cake was superior. Her cake was so-so.

jenebnell7 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:26pm
post #18 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by mplaidgirl2

IT had to have been older people judging. The cross cake is a much older style of cake so its probably what they are used to.... And the religion factor probably factored in too. To be an @ss next year I would come with a cake of jesus on the cross.




LOL...my sister said just about the same thing. But since I do a lot of hand painting, she told me to do a sheet cake with Jesus' face painted on it.

cakeandpartygirl Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:28pm
post #19 of 71

Wow!! I think that yours of course technically was way better. Did the rules have any parameters of what they were looking for. Honestly for those saying that it was because it was a cross was really offensive. But I think that you have your answer from the comment that said that the girl quit last year because of some of the shady stuff going on. Who knows maybe it was a family member of one of the judges. But it kinda sounds like they come from the mind set that fondant is bad and you really aren't a cake decorator because of the use of it!! But that mindset comes from all ages.

nhbaker Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:34pm
post #20 of 71

I had a similar thing happen to me last year in my local county fair. I've entered cakes for the last three years, and unfortunately, don't usually have much competition (if any) so I've always won first prize (a ribbon and a whopping $8!!!) Last year, however, the one other cake that was entered was a castle cake that was really rough and obviously done by someone with little experience. Which is GREAT with me, don't get me wrong, I was glad to have some competition. However, after the ribbons were awarded, I found out that we BOTH won first place -- HUH?? (Mine was the black & white and yellow one in my pics). There was a "P" marked on the entry tag attached to my cake so I can only assume that someone felt that it should be noted that I was a "professional" (which is where living in a small town sucks because there was nothing on my entry form that indicated that, just the fact the person that made up the tags knows me) - To top it off there are no separated categories, (pros vs. amatures) just a "decorated cakes" category. Found it very unfair and wanted to question it, but since I really just enter for the exposure not to win, I didn't bother.

mplaidgirl2 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:40pm
post #21 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakeandpartygirl

Honestly for those saying that it was because it was a cross was really offensive. .




I don't think its offensive at all. My grandmother would have picked the cross over the owl too. Shes religious and she would have felt that because it was a cross it had to win. Shes a god fearing woman and doesn't take any chances.

People get offended on here way too easily. Its a legit reason it could have been picked. There are plenty of people out there like my grandmother. All the fairs near me are grandmother judging... cause they do it for free... on thier free time... I see the cakes that win every year. I've never even entered because the modern cakes never win.

enchantedcreations Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:47pm
post #22 of 71

I love your owl cake, very cute and very well done. So sorry this happened to you. I use to live in a very small town and it was in a very small county. My sister talked me into entering my peanut butter fudge one year. I was quite nervous. Never did anything like that before. I no idea what I was doing. I just did what she told me to do. Well, long story short, I won first place. I was shocked to say the least, but boy did I *&%$ all over a bunch of old farts parade. I never got so many evil eyes in all my life. I was very excited until I got in the building where they held this but when I saw how all the "regulars" were treating me, it quickly took away the fun. The same women were use to winning and when someone else came along and "took" their prize, it made them mad. So, maybe this is what happened to you. Maybe the 1st prize went to the same winner...... very unforunate for you. Don't know if you can find out if that person has won in the past. But I wouldn't give up. I'd go back next year, and the next.......

jenebnell7 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:50pm
post #23 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by nhbaker

I had a similar thing happen to me last year in my local county fair. I've entered cakes for the last three years, and unfortunately, don't usually have much competition (if any) so I've always won first prize (a ribbon and a whopping $8!!!) Last year, however, the one other cake that was entered was a castle cake that was really rough and obviously done by someone with little experience. Which is GREAT with me, don't get me wrong, I was glad to have some competition. However, after the ribbons were awarded, I found out that we BOTH won first place -- HUH?? (Mine was the black & white and yellow one in my pics). There was a "P" marked on the entry tag attached to my cake so I can only assume that someone felt that it should be noted that I was a "professional" (which is where living in a small town sucks because there was nothing on my entry form that indicated that, just the fact the person that made up the tags knows me) - To top it off there are no separated categories, (pros vs. amatures) just a "decorated cakes" category. Found it very unfair and wanted to question it, but since I really just enter for the exposure not to win, I didn't bother.




Yes...this is exactly why I do fairs. The prize money is no big deal, but I just started doing cakes a couple of years ago. I'm not ready to enter my stuff in big shows because I don't feel like I'm ready, so I do little stuff like this. Plus, I wanted a new dummy cake, so I made the large tiered one for that purpose. The volunteer that I talked to was around my age...she said that the only way to get the judging changed, is to become a judge myself so that I can educate everyone else on what it actually takes to make cakes and what goes into the decorating process. I left them my contact info...we will see if they call me. I don't really care to be a judge, however, I would really love to teach them how to properly judge.

cakeandpartygirl Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 1:50pm
post #24 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by mplaidgirl2

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakeandpartygirl

Honestly for those saying that it was because it was a cross was really offensive. .



I don't think its offensive at all. My grandmother would have picked the cross over the owl too. Shes religious and she would have felt that because it was a cross it had to win. Shes a god fearing woman and doesn't take any chances.

People get offended on here way too easily. Its a legit reason it could have been picked. There are plenty of people out there like my grandmother. All the fairs near me are grandmother judging... cause they do it for free... on thier free time... I see the cakes that win every year. I've never even entered because the modern cakes never win.



I am going to pm you. Iam not mad and definitely not trying to argue icon_biggrin.gif

mariacakestoo Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 2:16pm
post #25 of 71

Exactly why I could never ever enter some local podunk county fair type competition. It's old ladies who like old fashioned, and if you ever put your business name up against Aunt Sally Mae's secret (box mix) recipe chocolate cake, forget, you'll lose. My pride couldn't handle such an atrocity.

KodiSnip Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 2:21pm
post #26 of 71

Totally bogus judging. You won. I still don't get the fact you were awarded 2nd place for a category you were the only entry.

CWR41 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 2:31pm
post #27 of 71

If the judges' scoring sheets are standardized, and only one competitor enters in a particular category they don't automatically qualify to win first place--they may require a minimum number of participants before the first place prize is considered. Also, you may not have met the number of points possible for 1st place.

Fairytale Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 2:39pm
post #28 of 71

quote]

I am actually shocked at the comment "My grandmother would have picked the cross over the owl too. Shes religious and she would have felt that because it was a cross it had to win. Shes a god fearing woman and doesn't take any chances." With all due respect, the point of these competitions is to look at technique, degree of difficulty, color values, creativity, execution, etc. Anyone who judges based on religion, race, political view, etc. should not be judging. I have awarded 1st place to cakes that weren't my favorite but whose techniques, degree of difficulty and execution warranted that placement.

QTCakes1 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 4:15pm
post #29 of 71

I think they knoew the baker and the cross had nothing to do with it. Though that cross cake you can get at a grocery store. This definitely sounds like a "In the know" type of thing.

mplaidgirl2 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 4:30pm
post #30 of 71

I don't see a PM...

Is not bringing relgion into cake judging the same as not bringing religion into politics?

Must have been a bunch of republicans judging (its a joke! calm down!)

No but really... a real cake competition screens the judges. They are people that know what they are doing. At least at my local county fairs the same people that judge the cakes judge the pumpkins.

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