State Fair Blog 2017 & 2018
Notifications, Winner Announcements, and more
I have been trying to convince the State Fair to keep a searchable historical archive of the Creative Living Department online. Currently the information online is only for the current year. Until they decide to do that, I will keep my own archive here on the blog and/or in the gallery. When I retire (or sell) my business I will convert this site to a free site so that the state fair gallery is still available.
I am posting my updated list of winners here. The fair staff are overloaded with work right now so changes there are slower to occur. The Creative Living Department, as far as I have been told, is run on a shoestring budget with a small number of paid staff and a lot of volunteers. There is a lot of work that gets done by a few so please, please, please tell all of the worker bees a big "Thank You!" for all of their hard work! Our department and competition would not exist without them!
As always, if you have any questions about the results or anything else cake related please contact me!
Thank you to everyone who entered this year. To those returning competitors it has been a real joy to watch your growth as artists! I look forward to seeing you all next year!
Congratulations! to everyone
Want to let all of you know that Shaile Socher is living in Salem these days and teaching sugar flower classes at Chemeketa Community College. She is a master at her art and you will get a lot from her class.
She is also on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/sugarflowersbyshaile/
For those who do not know about me or have not read my posts I want to give a brief background of how I became the chair of the competition and the hours I dedicate to it.
I took on the role in 2014 after I competed for a couple of years and was disappointed in my experience. My goal is and always has been to educate competitors and the local community on cake decorating, cake/sugar art competitions and to raise the bar for the state fair competition.
In order to achieve these goals I have to put my business on hold. I average about 200 volunteer hours per year putting it all together. Except the year I did the demo booth during the fair I added another 400 hours that year. That is 2- 3 months of full-time work. I fit it in through out the year with a big bulk before, during, and after the fair.
I have had a lot of success, a few failures, and I have learned a lot along the way. There are things I wish I could do more of, things that I wish I didn't have to do (this being one of them), and I always wish I had more time so I could do just one more thing.
In order to assist me and to make the work more efficient I created a series of spreadsheets for judging and keeping track of winners. The spreadsheets were a huge hit with the judges and did their job perfectly, including helping me find the error that was made. Yeah, SUCCESS!
The acrylic I use was designed to maximize table space for entries and it fits together like a puzzle. A puzzle that takes a bit of pre-planning so that I know where the entries will go and that the acrylic will fit the table configuration. There was a communication failure between myself and the person in charge of the floor plan for the building. So, I was in the position of designing the table layout the morning of intake, a job that takes hours to do correctly.
The failure occurred because I was juggling the tables and acrylic, verifying the entries were entered correctly, and figuring out the placement of the entries. The result was I had to move entries around and the entry number was swapped for two entries that one person entered. Their entries were judged correctly but the entries classes were wrong, therefore those entries scores went against different kinds of cakes. Example the fondant cake scores went against the buttercream cakes and vice versa.
Once I learned of the error I went back through EVERY entry and cross-checked each entry with the judges sheets, including reading comments to verify all of the numbers were correct. This took an entire day to recheck and fix but I was more than confidant I found where the error occurred and why. It isn't something that the entrant did that would have caused them to be disqualified. It was an error that I should have caught at intake and that I take responsibility for.
I fixed the numbers and recalculated the scores. Two entries were affected by the change and I have spoken with them personally. I fixed the problem immediately and I apologized to those involved.
I wrote this blog because some comments have surfaced on FB as a result of the error. I am sure that many of the comments are just friends defending friends but the comments matter. Either way their negative talk of me is untrue and the effect on future entrants can be significant.
It is obvious that they do not know all the work that has to be done or that I am pretty much the only VOLUNTEER that does it. I have some backup by staff but the bulk of it falls on me. Either way their negative talk of me is untrue and the effect on future entrants can be significant.
I would like to offer anyone who is not happy with the competition to do what I did in 2014 and to get involved personally and volunteer your time to help me make the competition better.
Before I go into the numbers I want to tell you about the voting ballot box...I mean cake! Carol Webb, made the first ballot cake for me in 2014. Made with styrofoam rings all glued together to look like a two-tiered cake. She then decorated it with orange and blue ribbon, lots of bling and caulk to pipe the border!
In 2015 Shannon Banky of All4FunCakes revamped the ballot box with a new sign and reapplied the same ribbons. Can't believe I didn't take a photo of it. The sign can be seen on this years cake but I covered the original with this years printout. I added a new ribbon treatment to match this years state fair theme: "Colors of Fun"
Okay, Let's Talk Numbers!
It takes a lot of time to sort through the ballots. We easily get over 500 entries per day. This number can jump to a thousand when we have a volunteer working the area and encouraging people to vote. It can take one person two to three hours to sort through and tally every vote. I do just that, I count every vote! It matters to the competitors and it is the only way I can get a good view of the voting.
Until this year ballot sheets had a comment section so people could leave the cake artist comments about their entry. The votes with comments then went to the competitor. It is a great way to give positive feedback to the competitors. My apologies to the competitors this year. I dropped the ball on ordering ballots and the standard ones did not have a comment section.
Every year I keep track of the numbers so that I can learn from them. Like what days tend to have the most votes or does the number of volunteers that day change the number of votes cast. It is very basic data and nothing I would bet my business on but it is something I can measure and use to help make improvements.
Looking at the numbers over these last four years I noticed that the gap between the top five is decreasing. The first year the Peoples Choice Award was won by 100's of votes. This year the gap between the top finisher and the second was only 150 votes. More telling is that the difference between the 2nd and 5th place finisher is only 78 votes.
This is exciting to me because it helps validate that all the work I have put in to the department and my efforts in putting together a professional competition are paying off. The judges and I noticed this year a marked technical improvement across the board for all the entries. For me it is the best part of this year, it is exciting to see cake artists skills grow every year.
I will blog soon about competition prizes and specifically about the prizes and the businesses who donated this year.
Congratulations to all of the competitors, your hard work really showed this year!
So, drum roll please.
The People's Choice Winner is:
3-D Sculpted Cake
About this Blog:
This is where I will be posting the latest information on the Oregon State Fair Cake Decorating and Confectionery Arts Competition. As the chair I want to promote the competition, encourage people to enter, and educate everyone interested about cake and confectionery arts.