For more than 80 years, the Wicomico County Fair has been a staple in the Salisbury community. This year’s event is right around the corner and contestants are preparing for one local favorite pastime—the baking competition.
When Alan Gravenor started baking as a young 4-H member, he didn’t know he’d one day sell a cake he baked for $330. But that’s exactly what happened at least year’s event. The proceeds from Gravenor’s angel food cake went straight back into the county fair.
Each year, bakers enter their homemade goods into various competitions with specific categories. There are multiple categories within the sections of solid or loaf cakes, layer cakes and miscellaneous cakes. There are different cupcake, pie and brownie divisions. And when it comes to cookies, there are 20 different categories, not including the ones for miscellaneous and best collection.
Gravenor, who is past president of the Wicomico County Fair and a member of the Board of Directors, does food preservation – canning and pickling – in addition to baking. He enters about 100 items at each of five fairs per year, one of which is the Wicomico County Fair. Gravenor even earned Best in Show in 2017 for his cloverleaf yeast rolls.
What’s his advice for aspiring bakers? “Plan ahead and be organized,” he said.
He said he’ll have his ingredients and pans ready to go before he starts baking, and sometimes he puts more than one item in the oven at the same time if they need to bake at the same temperature.
Another Wicomico County Fair competitor, Katharine B. Allen, is also a former 4-H member who has been baking since she was young.
“I used to love to help my mother and my grandmother bake,” said Allen, who turned 81 in March.
Among the items she enjoys making are cookies and whoopee pies, she said. She’s also made plenty of coconut cakes.
In addition to baking, she also does canning and competes in flower categories. She said she likes horticulture – single blooms or three of the same type of flower – along with silk flower arranging.
Stop by to see these contestants and more at the Wicomico County Fair, held at the Winterplace Park Equestrian Center from August 17-19.