New Castle News

August 15, 2012

Confusion cuts chocolate contestants

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Was it the switch? The unusually hot summer? Was there confusion? Don’t people like chocolate anymore?

Something caused entries in two specialty contests at the Lawrence County Fair to drop off significantly this year.

According to Lori Hites, the fair’s home economics director, there are usually about a dozen entries in the chocolate cake contest and about the same number in the chocolate cookie competition.

This year, only four cakes were entered. In the cookie contest — for ages 8 to 18 — there were none.

“I just think people were confused,” Hites said of the disappointing turnout.

She explained the two contests have been sponsored by Hershey for years, with the entries required to contain some Hershey’s cocoa.

This year, Hershey did not participate. Instead, the state’s department of agriculture and association of county fairs were joined by the PA Preferred program to sponsor the contest.

The rules stated: As many PA Preferred products as possible should be used and listed as “PA Preferred” in the recipe.

Hites said the fair’s officials are going to try to do a better job explaining that rule in 2013.

“We will simplify it to try to get the number of entries back up.”

Hites also plans to bring back another popular baking contest that was missing this year.

The state organizations selected an angel food cake contest and it replaced what had been dubbed the fair’s “special baking contest.”

Hites, her husband and their two sons have sponsored that contest for several years in memory of her mother, Virginia Worrell.

Worrell, who died in 2008, “loved the fair,” Hites said.

She not only participated as a judge, but sponsored the baking contest for eight or 10 years, according to Hites.

“We wanted to keep it going.”

A home economics teacher at Laurel, Hites had selected a recipe each year and all contestants used it for their entry.

She explained she wanted something that isn’t too complicated or involved and uses ingredients “people would have in their kitchens.”

Among the previous recipes were a blueberry lemon loaf and cinnamon bread.

Next year’s will be similar, Hites promised.

“I’m going to pick it personally.”