Day 15: Decorated Cakes

December 24, 2012 By: Bearded Lady Category: Uncategorized

Over the past four years, we’ve had the chance to sample some of the latest, greatest and strangest fair food to come to the N.C. State Fair. In the spirit of year-end lists, we thought we would look back at 15 of our favorite food-related posts from the past four years. Each day between now and Christmas, we’ll post a different food review from our archives.

15. State Fair Street Team: Calling all bakers, cake decorators, and pastry chefs–come see the 2012 NC State Fair Cake Decorating entries! (2012)

 This is a guest blog post from our State Fair Street Team. You can follow Helen, Annie and Ali’s adventures at the 2012 N.C. State Fair on their blog, Heart of a Southern Woman.

Yesterday at the Fair could not have been better, unless you, my family and friends, could all have been there with me!   A family reunion at the Fair! Now that would be cool!   Today is going to be another brilliantly sunshiny day, high of 74 degrees, and boundless blue skies! It promises to be the kind of day that screams “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina, in the morning!”

Just in case you aren’t on Facebook, I thought I’d show you the caricature we had done at the Fair yesterday! What do you think?!

The artist is one Nick Tabron, a talented, and kind hearted man! He is a native North Carolinian and actually lives near us in Southern Franklin County! We met his wife Rhonda also who was there lending a helping hand to the artist! I want to get a caricature done of my grandchildren, Nick is located outside Dorton Arena, north entrance.

      Annie, who is the baker of our little group, had to see the decorated cakes immediately!  I thought you might enjoy seeing them also.  When you are at the Fair, they are displayed in the education building, along with the quilts, and handmade dresses that are only awesome!

    The cakes are truly amazing! I cannot imagine being able to make these things…out of cake! Good Gracious! Talented people, our neighbors!

This is not a cake, in case you wondered! This dress, with layers and layers of ruffles, is reminisient of Gone With The Wind days! The picture does not do it justice, you have to go see it for yourself, in the education building!

I’m on my way to the Fair right now, Friday morning, October 12, 2012.  I’d love to see you there as well, if you get there tweet us  @mamakat07 and let us know where we can find you!  Have a great day!

Decorated-cakes winners demonstrate contest’s diversity

October 16, 2011 By: Tilt-A-Whirl Category: 2011 N.C. State Fair

The decorated cakes contest has become famous among fairgoers for the diverse entries it attracts each year. You can read more about the work that goes into the cakes here. This year’s winners have proven to be no exception to that rule.

Elizabeth Prioli of Chapel Hill took the top prize in the professional category for her Native American-themed cake complete with a drum, feathers and a moccasin, while the best-in-show winner in the non-professional category was a more traditional four-tiered white cake by Carol L. Deely of Cary. Mary Moseley of Whitakers rounded out the best-in-show winners, taking the top prize in the junior category with her rooster cake.

The winners in each of the competition’s 18 classes received $25, $15 and $10 premiums for first place, second place and third place respectively, for a total of nearly $1,000 in total prize money.

With the rise in popularity of television shows like “Cake Boss” and “Ace 0f Cakes” and designs ranging in themes from traditional wedding to fall cornucopia, it’s not surprising that the decorated cakes competition is a favorite with the public. At just about any time of day you’re sure to find a line of people waiting to stop by and see the artful creations that are a part of this year’s competition.

Visitors can check out all of this year’s decorated cakes in the Education Building, which is open every day from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.

N.C. State Fair decorated-cakes contest a winner with the public

August 22, 2011 By: Tilt-A-Whirl Category: 2011 N.C. State Fair

The N.C. State Fair’s decorated-cakes competition is a real crowd pleaser, drawing a line of visitors past the many entries on display in the Education Building. Professional and amateur decorators create ornate, multi-tiered cakes that look too pretty to eat.

Robin Bilodeau of Chapel Hill is a frequent entrant in the competition, and she attributes its popularity in part to people’s fascination with the complexity of the creations on display. Jacquelyn McClelland, a N.C. State University professor and the competition’s superintendent, agrees.

“I think the public likes the contest so much because the cakes are so creative and beautiful to see; they really defy the imagination,” McClelland said.

Bilodeau, who has been involved with the competition for more than five years, won a ribbon the first time she entered the competition. It was a three-dimensional cake with a dragon theme. She knows it takes a lot to set one cake apart from the competition.

“The cakes at the fairgrounds are not your average creations,” Bilodeau said. “Visitors will truly be amazed at how detailed they are and how much talent there is locally.”

The judges see a wide range of entries. Last year’s three Best in Show winners were a diverse mix, including a three-dimensional dress cake, a blue jeweled cake and a tropical-themed, bamboo-covered cake.

One of the Best of Show decorated cakes at the 2010 N.C. State Fair.

Lorie Murray of Raleigh, who owns her own cake shop and has been a judge for many years, looks forward to seeing what is entered every year. “You can really see the passion of the designers, especially the children’s cakes made without the help of the parents,” she said. “I look for creativity and imagination. Also, colors and textures that go with the theme are important.  And, designs that push the limits are so much fun to see.”

With the rise of popular television shows such as “Cake Boss” and “Ace of Cakes,” it’s no surprise the decorated-cakes competition draws so many visitors. But there’s more to these cakes than fairgoers might imagine.

For example, although the techniques used in all entries must be possible to make with real cake, organizers encourage entrants to use Styrofoam forms as the basis of their creations. This way, the design can last for the fair’s entire 11-day run.

“They can use real cake if they want,” McClelland said, “but real cake is heavier and can be harder to work with, can fall apart, and of course will not last as long.”

Visitors also might not realize how much time goes into producing each cake. Some of the cakes, especially those that make heavy use of fondant or gum paste, can take up to a week of full-time work to complete.

Entries for the competition are divided into professional, non-professional and junior categories. There are also subcategories based on the type of decorations used and the occasion for which the cake is designed. The junior competition is divided by age brackets instead of by cake types.

Cakes are judged first on their overall appearance. This includes a pleasing general look, originality and appropriateness for the occasion. They are then judged on techniques used, design and execution to evaluate the entrant’s decorating abilities and consistency. Appearance and technique are each weighted equally.

The first-, second- and third-place winners in each subcategory will take home $25, $15 and $10, respectively. Anyone can enter as long as he or she submits an entry form by Friday, Sept. 23, at 5 p.m. Entries can be done online at or sent in by regular mail.

The cakes will be on display Oct. 13-23 in the Education Building.

Whether or not cakes are your thing, Bilodeau suggests that visitors check out the competitions in general. “When it comes to the N.C. State Fair competitions, there’s really something for everyone,” she said.

Decorated cakes: The Best in Show

October 17, 2010 By: Sweet Corn Category: 2010 N.C. State Fair, N.C. State Fairgrounds

When I think of decorated cakes, I think of the ballroom gown-shaped Barbie cake and the gummy worm mud cake that I ate on my ninth and 10th birthdays. However, (no offense to my mother, household birthday cake creator extraordinaire), the decorated cakes that you will find in the Education Building at the N.C. State Fair are simply incomparable.

The cakes are one of the most popular competition attractions; typically drawing lines of people wanting to get a glimpse of the cake creativity on display.

Professional, novice and junior cake artists enter the cake decorating competitions for an opportunity to win premium money and prized ribbons. Cakes are judged for appearance, decorating technique and design. This year’s “Best in Show” ribbons were awarded to an undeniably talented group of individuals:

  • Junior Level: Carmen O. Stroupe, of Locust

Cake by Carmen O. Stroupe, who won "Best in Show" in the junior category.

  • Non-professional: Denise Appel, of Raleigh,

Cake by Denise Appel, one of two cakes voted "Best in Show" in the professional category

  •  Adult Professional: Janice Crissman, of Durham


Janet Crissman of Durham won a Best of Show ribbon in the adult professional category for this elaborate three-tiered creation.

Each cake entered into the contest features intricate details that take plenty of practice and hard work. Take a look at the photographs above, but make sure to come check out the exhibit for yourself! You’ll find cakes shaped and decorated as a platter of sushi, a palette of cupcake-shaped paints and a many many more!

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