The Pantry Store is a staple of Delta County Fair

Photo by Tamie Meck Some of the finest herbs and other gifts from the ground will be on exhibit at Heritage Hall. Exhibits open at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3.

The jewel-colored peaches resting in their own sweet juices, the vivid red of canned beets, amber honeys and baked goods made in the shapes of animals -- these are but a tasty sampling of the visual delights that make their way to the Delta County Fair "Pantry Store" competition.

The sheer profusion of possible entries is mind-boggling. Fair Pantry Store superintendent Janice Cooper notes that canning and baking are but two categories of the overall competition. Dried foods, jams and jellies, quick breads, yeasted breads, candies, cheeses, homemade wines and beers also feature in the historical fair attraction.

Cooper says one category, titled "fun with food," encourages an "out-of-the-box" way of looking at the foods we eat. This category features the most unique entries, for example, a small stuffed toy rabbit in a canning jar, labeled "canned rabbit."

Cooper lauded her judges, Deb Turner and Kathy Hetzel and their attention to each and every entry, providing thoughtful comments about their respective strengths and weaknesses. Each returned entry receives the judges' personal responses. The judges award three prizes -- judges' choice, adult division, judges' choice, junior division, and the Mayme "Louise" Ruble memorial ribbon, sponsored by Altrusa. The memorial ribbon is in memory of Cooper's mother.

Cooper urges contestants to bring their offerings to Heritage Hall at the Delta County Fairgrounds between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6. The Fair Book is an indespensible reference tool for any interested competitors, as it details the rules of engagement. The Pantry Store section can be found on pages 95-100. Cooper said she would love to see more entries, particularly from junior competitors. She reminds entrants to pay special attention to presentation, as the judges pay close attention to the visual appeal of the offerings. Judging will take place at approximately 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7.

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