It doesn’t matter which part of this country you call home; every one has a state fair. If you have never attended one, you have missed out on an American tradition that consists of competitions, agricultural exhibitions, games, farm animals and a whole lot more. In addition, many fairs offer blue ribbons as the top prize for the recipe that has been deemed the best of the year. Why not incorporate one or two of these into your cooking repertoire?


There is a saying that everything is bigger and better in Texas. That’s definitely the case with this zesty pie, which won “best of show” at the 2015 Texas state fair.


Traditionally, shortbread is a simple creation whose goodness comes mostly from the marriage of sweet butter and sugar. However, blue ribbon winner Jennifer Dickey decided to take that perfectly acceptable recipe to a new level by adding the distinctive flavor of lavender. Does it make you want to do some cookie experimentation of your own?


Cobbler isn’t just for peaches and blueberries anymore. Just ask Jacquelyn Brown, who concocted a whole new take on that particular dessert by using fresh tomatoes instead. Because of her ability to think outside the box, she won top prize at the New York state fair. With a little imagination, you can make a unique cobbler as well.


When 2013 Wisconsin state fair blue ribbon winner Jeffrey Doyle-Horney made this sweet dessert concoction, he did so to honor his grandmother, who had come up with the recipe years before. His hard work is proof that the pastry bakers of Wisconsin have a plethora of talents. If you would rather not try to match the Badger State’s traditional cream puff recipe that has become a traditional part of every one of its state fairs, this raspberry delight is just as good.


The judges at the 2015 Colorado state fair knew, just as you probably do, that you can’t go wrong when you use certain ingredients in your cooking. Three cases in point are maple syrup, bacon and chocolate. Therefore, it stands to reason that a cookie that contains all three would come out as a hands-down winner at the fair.


Pies and cream puffs are flavorful and glamorous, but you can’t beat an apricot bar at just about any time. As a dessert, snack or lunchbox go-to, apricot bars combine an irresistibly buttery and sugary crust with sweet and sticky apricots for the pinnacle of dessert pleasure. Apricot bars have won blue ribbons at fairs across the country, so maybe it should be your next job to try all of the recipes to see which one you like best.

State fairs seem to roll around just as summer is coming to a close. Don’t let the next one go by without gathering up friends or family and making a pilgrimage to one of America’s richest traditions. In the meantime, get into the spirit by trying some blue ribbon-winning recipes.