County Fair: Vent + Advice Needed

Decorating By cakearoni Updated 11 Aug 2006 , 5:15pm by MissBaritone

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cakearoni Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 7:30am
post #1 of 27

So its midnight here in California and Im fuming, actually Ive been fuming for close to 2 weeks. My cake that won best of show in an earlier county fair (10 mi. to the south of me) scored third in a field of three at our county fair (my town) that ended Monday.

If you havent seen it it was a carved (dummy) using 4 different materials (fondant, pastilage, royal, gold leaf) and 4 different techniques (piping, hand modeling, painting, molds) and the cakes that wonaside from being glorified buttercream grocery store cakes had only one type of material (buttercream) and one technique (piping) and had store bought plastic decorations (bride and groom and beading spray) stuck in the top!

Question: do I just hitch up my drawers and get over it, complain, ask the qualifications of the judge or what? EVERYONE Ive spoken with from friends to the women running the exhibit hall and the actual winner of the first place ribbon said my cake should have won.

Would personal preference (dislike for the color pink) really blind someone so much that they would disqualify it from contention? Or am I over rating my own abilities? Or just underestimating the allure of white on white buttercream?

There were no comments on my place card so I have nothing to go on as far as what I missed. It is NOT that I was being dinged for showing a cake that had been somewhere else as my fish also had won first in the other fair and won first here, and my other cake (fair theme car) also took a blue ribbon.I am just dumbfounded

26 replies
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mckaren Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 8:44am
post #2 of 27

I'm sorry to read about what happened. Your cake is stunning, beautiful and it should have won first place.

I think that the absence of comments on your card shows that maybe the judges thought you were too proffessional and shouldn't take away the chances of winning from a novice. (by the way i don't mean you're not a proffessional but i'm sure you get what i mean: - working in a high end cake decorating store)

People do tend to vote for who they think is the underdog instead of judging fairly overall.

But feel better cakearoni, they can't have much of a clue and your cake really is amazing. By the way how do you do the gold leaf?

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CakeRN Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 10:25am
post #3 of 27

Wow...look out Colette Peters! Yes your cake should have won but sometimes I think small county fairs have no idea what they are judging. They probably had no idea what they were looking at and so in order to not look stupid by asking what the cake was about they took the low road and voted for buttercream and plastic!

YOU know that your cake was awesome and you don't need their blue ribbon to tell you that. Just keep up the fantastic work...

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AbouttheCake Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 10:39am
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The judges were probably more conservative at the second one and didn't feel that your cake represented a 'wedding' cake. There are a lot of people out there who just don't care for that type of design. If that's how they felt, then the traditional bc cakes would most certainly beat it.

Why did you enter the same cakes in two different fairs? Isn't that against regulations? I only ask because in most cases, competition cakes are only allowed to be entered into one event/affair.

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birdgirl Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 1:08pm
post #5 of 27

Your cake is very nice and I know that you can question the judges decision but I would just let it go. I know around here you can only enter the item in that fair only and not show it anywhere else--if they find out is was entered in a different fair it won't even be judged. Could that be the problem? Don't let it get you down there is always next year!

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gmcakes Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 1:21pm
post #6 of 27

I think the cake is really nice, it shows skill at many techniques!

However, as the others have said...Perhaps the Judges knew that it had been enter previously in another competition, or perhaps they thought your skills were too professional to be in this particular competition! It may even be the fact that your cake was a dummy, were the others actual cake? In some instances, that can make a difference to a judge. Here they have to be cake.

Whatever the case may be you should be very proud of your work! You did an amazing job!

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MomLittr Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 1:34pm
post #7 of 27

Although your design and cake is fabulous, I always thought that country fair judges looked for the simple yet elegant designs, as well as taste of the cakes. With the level of decorating you have achieved, you should go for the more "professional" competitions, and people who more appreciate the skills you have. Keep up the excellent work and don't let the country folk get you down!

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imartsy Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 1:42pm
post #8 of 27

While I think it's hard to judge one cake against another when we only have the picture of one, I just added 3 of your cakes to my favorites!! I think I'd just drop it - you know you should've won - but this isn't a Food Network Competition w/ $10,000 on the line, right? Is there a big prize at all? I know our fair may give out $25 gift certificate in one category but that's about as wonderful as the prizes get - I've never entered, so I'm not sure but I think that's what I read in the rules. So I'd drop it. Put it in your portfolio as a winner at the other fair and let those who are actually going to order from you see how great your work is and forget those judges.

Congrats on your other wins too!!

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indydebi Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 1:44pm
post #9 of 27

"The judges were probably more conservative at the second one and didn't feel that your cake represented a 'wedding' cake. There are a lot of people out there who just don't care for that type of design. If that's how they felt, then the traditional bc cakes would most certainly beat it. "
This is unfortunately probably true. Your cake is gorgeous and unless something in the rules really identified the parameters of the judging to be "traditional" (although what's "traditional" these days?), the design was probably too "modern" for them. I'm originally from a small town, so I'd bet my last dollar that was the thought.

It doesn't matter tho.....a ribbon is a ribbon so you can still tell people you're an award winning cake decorator!

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lakecountrymommy Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 2:27pm
post #10 of 27

Judges don't vote for the "Underdog". That's just silly.

The judges know about the craft they are judging. They are usually high level professionals.

I agree with the others. There may have been a requirement that was overlooked. Did it fall within height restricitons? Were the others real cake vs dummy? Who knows why they placed them as they did. Hard to give an educated opinion without seeing the rest.

Usually, one needs to be a resident of the county they are competing in. You said it was 2 different counties. Could that have affected it? Maybe they placed you rather than disqualifying you. They may have recognized it.

If you want to ask for clarification, go ahead. But I wouldn't make a stink about it. You might be banned. Judges decisions are final. It states that in the rules and regulations.

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Loucinda Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 3:29pm
post #11 of 27

Your cake (which is beautiful) IMO looks more like a VERY nice birthday cake instead of a wedding cake. The judges were obviously looking for a more tradtional type of cake for the wedding cake classification.

Everyone has different tastes, and I would imagine that it being a county fair, those judges like the traditional look. I still personally like the 80's style cakes.....lots of icing and foo foo on them. I know I am outdated in my tastes!

Your cake is stunning - and congrats on the win you already received with it1

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adven68 Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 4:20pm
post #12 of 27

It sounds like your judges had different tastes than yours. I say that because the 2 cakes that won 1st and 2nd palce sound like they were of similar styles.

A lot of posters mentioned other reasons that may have contributed to your placing 3rd.......they all sound valid to me. Bottom can't please all of the people all of the time...

Don't dwell on sound pretty sure of yourself and that is what matters.

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debsuewoo Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 4:26pm
post #13 of 27

Perhaps the judges have seen your cake in the other shows?

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prettycake Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 4:27pm
post #14 of 27

I know how you feel...My Blue and Gold Cake won 2nd at the Sacramento County fair last May and everyone that saw said why oh why didn't you get 1st Place ? The winner looked like it came out of a Sara Lee box, according to the lookers. NO exageration (? spelling)..

I think judges sometimes judged by "pity"..feeling sorry for the ugly ones, esp, if your cake stood out from the rest of them...w/c is really a very shallow way of judging.

But I always say, there is always a next time. Don't worry about it, to us, you are a winner
. thumbs_up.gif

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Lazy_Susan Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 4:31pm
post #15 of 27

Your cake is very beautiful. Don't let it bother you. Although I know it will. It is rather strange how different places judge things differently. I had a similar thing happen to me but it didn't involve a cake. I had written a report on a certain book I read in College and the paper was given an "A". I gave the same paper to my SIL (which I know was wrong of me to do but oh well) to turn in to her High School Lit. teacher. Her High School teacher gave the paper a "C". Hmpf!!! Go figure.... So you see... I know where you're coming from and I feel your pain. It sucks but unfortunately it happens.


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cakearoni Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 4:32pm
post #16 of 27

thanks all, to answer a few queries. I live in Sonoma county. The first fair is called the Sonoma-Marin Fair (both couties) the second fair is the sonoma county fair so I was eligible for both and neither fair has a prohibition against dummies or entering something that has been entered in another fair (yes, I asked first!) and there were no other stipulations on theme.

It is undeniable the other cakes were white traditional, which if the judges were going on that would explain a lot...and in writing this I seem to recall last years winner was on clear plastic pillars, and just piped too..pastel colors.

I do think I will call the office and ask IN GENERAL about the qualifications of the judges since I have another issue to address with them.

My son who just turned 7 last week entered the blue car in my gallery and he thought about and was the architect behind everything in that cake--I 'only' told him what steps to take--however there were disparaging remarks made about it by the building chaperones that were overheard by my teenager ("oh, Im so sure he did that himself, it should be disqualified because its not really a cake" (shape) Nearly put my teen in tears and she ran from the building to hear her little brother so maligned

In looking at this Ive got to say Im really not a high maintenance rabid *itch....maybe just a bit competetive icon_biggrin.gif

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Narie Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 4:38pm
post #17 of 27

The judges were probably more conservative at the second one and didn't feel that your cake represented a 'wedding' cake.

I'm the second person to quote this line. Since it isn't a matter of skill or disqualification- you wouldn't have gotten any ribbon in that case. It is a matter of taste. If you had created a "classic" white on white with a few gum paste flowers you would have been a shoe in.

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tiptop57 Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 4:44pm
post #18 of 27

Okay everyone - please don't flame me - but:

You win some and you lose some and life is not fair. That being said, you actually won ribbons, so in IMHO and even if you deserve it, maybe, just maybe the gods and goddesses are trying to encourage another persons work.

I'm basing it on my lifes history: I have been in other competitions - no details needed - but the following year was asked to step down so others could win one of the competitions and the following year after that they put rules that limited the competition........yeppers I hogged them all. Think of the academy awards and so and so always getting up to win the statue..............gets old and not very fun for others. Even if yours was better! icon_wink.gif

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cakearoni Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 4:44pm
post #19 of 27

Im afraid youre right icon_sad.gif
BTW: LOVE your poodle he yours? I also have a standard....but not so pretty

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cakearoni Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 4:49pm
post #20 of 27

tip top--you rock. Thats a darn good reason to step down!

I might have the same magnanimous feelings if I had actually won in the wedding cake competion in this fair

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Narie Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 5:50pm
post #21 of 27

Yes, cakearoni, that's my big spoiled baby. Lizzie can be a perfect ham as she was for her "diva" photo. Unfortunately, she has allergies and she doesn't look so good right now, I had to cut her hair very short so that her rash could clear up. But she does love showing off and getting attention. Standards are definitely different from any other breed I have owned. Smart as a whip when she wants to be, and the ultimate 'dumb blond' when she doesn't. What color is your boy?

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cakearoni Posted 10 Aug 2006 , 9:18pm
post #22 of 27

So I have an update: Called the fair and ended up speaking with someone who I worked with through business (Im in radio promotions). So hopefully she doesnt think Im a total crack pot (well maybe just a bit cracked) anyway she was distressed to hear about the incident with the juniors building chaperones and as far as my cake went the judge is very qualified: CIA graduate, teaches at the local junior college p/t and also at a bakery. My contact did say she would ask her to give me some feedback --I did approach it in 'what am I missing, how can I improve' She promised to email.....

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lakecountrymommy Posted 11 Aug 2006 , 5:25am
post #23 of 27

let us know what happens from here!

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MissBaritone Posted 11 Aug 2006 , 5:37am
post #24 of 27

In the UK it is customary for the judges to fill in a card with a small critique of what was good and what could be improved about the cake. They are usually available for a short time after juding to offer advice and discuss why one cake was placed above the other however the rules are quite Clear in that the judges decision is final and if anyone is aggressive (verbally or physically) towards the judge their entry is disqualified and they are removed from the tent. I don't know if the same system exists in the US but if not perhaps it's something that should be introduced

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cakearoni Posted 11 Aug 2006 , 3:55pm
post #25 of 27

well just so there is no confusion I certainly wasn't abusive...completely couched in 'what can I do to make myself better' ANYWAY...I took the prcaution of emailing my contact a pic of the cake so she could remind her judge which one it was and this was the reply I got: "It looks great to me! I saw Anne Vercelli today and asked her about the cake judging. She remembered your cake, said she was not bothered by the pink frosting. Didn't really give me a compelling reason for the third place. I will print out your picture and let her look at it. If she has any additional comments, I will email them to you."

I thought it was interesting her word choice: Didn't really give me a compelling reason for the third place

anyway I feel better that I dont totally suck icon_biggrin.gif

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queenamy Posted 11 Aug 2006 , 4:04pm
post #26 of 27

Omg your cake is beautiful!! I have no clue what people were thinkin!

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MissBaritone Posted 11 Aug 2006 , 5:15pm
post #27 of 27

I didn't think you were abusive. I just put that in as that is what the rules say in the UK. It is a good rule to have as it means we can discuss with the judge in a constructive manner why a decision went one way and how our cakes could be improved without the judge having any worries about being abused and shouted at

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