24 Jul 2012

Wait a minute… D.C. has a state fair?

The 2010 cupcake contest on display at the D.C. State Fair / Photo courtesy Rhea Kennedy

For years, District of Columbia residents have fought tirelessly for statehood and voting rights, but one thing Washingtonians won’t have to fight for, a state fair, just like those held in other states across the country.

That’s right, the state fair — a time-honored, end-of-summer tradition — can now be found in the District.

But at the D.C. State Fair, you’re not going to find a deep-fried Oreo,  pig races or a cow carved out of butter. You will, however, find a competitive batch of bakers, brewers and craft makers competing for the title of Washington’s best.

Even better, this year Capitol Hill residents have home field advantage. The fair will take place as part of Barracks Row Fall Festival on Saturday, September 22nd, which means you have time to perfect that pie recipe or knit together a crazy yarn bomb (see: Albert Einstein Memorial for inspiration).

This is the third consecutive year for the D.C. State Fair. It started with a group of food and garden bloggers, who wanted to showcase local growers and artists, similar to other regional state and county fairs.

“Folks sometimes asked: ‘Why call it the D.C. State Fair?’ We are going for a culturally analogous concept to the state fairs that take place in Maryland and Virginia, and that transplanted residents might have grown up with in other regions,” said fair organizer, Rhea Kennedy. “Instead of encompassing counties, we bring together the eight wards of the District.”

This year the fair is expected to draw almost 9,000 people, Kennedy said. Admission is free and includes craft and cooking demonstrations as well as a children’s poetry reading. Kids can also compete in an art and poetry contest.

And leave it to D.C. to host a state fair featuring cupcake, homebrew beer and bicycle accessory categories of competition.

Each first, second, and third place winner receives a cash prizes and ribbon; and some categories, which are sponsored, feature an additional bonus prize for first-place.

Community garden and green thumb contestants can enter prized produce in categories, like the tastiest tomato, fruit pickle, and funkiest looking vegetable. With just two months to go until the fair, many of the competitions are still up for grabs, Kennedy said.

But depending on the category, there may be entry-limits, entry fees or earlier deadlines for competition. The first competition, tastiest tomato, takes place next month and off-site, at the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace.

“The most popular contests, in terms of number of entries, are pie, homebrew and photography. The cupcake contest is also very big, as are our jam and pickle contests,” Kennedy said.

So get growing or crafting, and maybe you’ll have eternal summer bragging rights as the top finisher at the third annual D.C. State Fair.

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  • kpjarboe

    If there is a state fair, I expect a ferris wheel and pony rides!

    • And wait, NO pig races? That’s crap.

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