Icing on the cake

Staff Writer
A pair of 4-H members have a goal of earning a blue ribbon at the county fair and qualifying for state — along with making their project a career in the future.
On Friday, two members of the Pin Cushion Pals and 4-H Rascals 4-H Club were judged on cake decorating projects they are bringing to the Auglaize County Fair — which is slated from July 29 to Aug. 4.
Seventeen-year-old Selena Zeigler and 11-year-old Alyssa Alexander, both of St. Marys, were all ready to show their decorated cakes to judges on Friday during the preliminary specialty project judging at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.
“You read the book from cover to cover,” Zeigler said of how she prepared for the judging of her project.
Participants who take cake decorating, and other specialty projects, to the fair, answer questions as they complete project books. Zeigler and Alexander brought with them to their judgings photographs of five other cakes they decorated for their projects, and answered questions about how they created those as well.
“You have to find the costs of all the ingredients you use because they will ask you about the costs,” Zeigler said.
Also, in preparation for their judgings, the two girls wrote essays on cake decorating, completed a project review of the process of decorating the cakes they brought to the judgings, and the goals they set for themselves in beginning their projects.
Prior to the fair, they performed demonstrations for their club to help them prepare for the judgings, and practiced at home with their families.
“My favorite part of cake decorating is when it is all finished,” Zeigler said. “Then you get to see what you’ve made and accomplished.”
Along with completing project books, each girl had to either decorate a real cake or a styrofoam cake to present to the judge on Friday.
“I wanted to do a state of Ohio cake, but then I decided to do a St. Marys Roughriders cake because I saw an ‘M’ emblem on a jacket,” Zeigler said.
The ‘M’ that she saw was a letter on a high school letterman jacket, and she recreated the image in the form of icing using blue, one of St. Marys’s school colors, and then finished the cake by adding yellow and more blue detail and writing “St. Marys Roughriders” across the top.
Alexander made a 4-H themed cake, designing a green four-leaf clover in icing and adding accent dots to line the bottom of the cake.
“The hardest part is getting the cake smooth,” Alexander said.
It took her 15 minutes to smooth the icing on her cake the day before judging, but it took Zeigler an hour to smooth out her cake.
“I’m always so nervous,” Zeigler said.
Along with learning to decorate cakes, the girls also learned the skill of budgeting, as they had to keep track of all their ingredients and expenditures.
“At the store, the price of a sheet cake is around $40,” Zeigler said. “I made mine for only $12.”
Along with icing, the girls learned how to use edible spray paint and fondant to decorate their cakes.
Zeigler and Alexander said they have been making cakes for friends and family who ask them, and one day they might turn their hobby into a career.
Minster Livestock 4-H Club member Morgan Kuether brought some of her homegrown vegetables to be judged on Friday.
“I thought it went good,” Kuether said after her interview. “I remembered all of my vegetables, and we just went over the book.”
Kuether also went through her project book answering questions prior to her judging.
How to take care of vegetables was a main topic Kuether’s judge had asked her about during her judging.
“I was nervous going into it,” Kuether said. “But it gets easier ever year.”
This will be the 12-year-old’s fourth year participating in the Auglaize County Fair, and she said one of her favorite parts of bringing projects to the fair is the judging portion.
The daughter of Barb and Kerry Kuether said she likes being judged because they test her on her project and she likes tests.
Auglaize County 4-H Extension Educator Beth Miller said judges look at the quality and knowledge on each project.
“Each person will bring a product they’ve made, and they get judged on quality of work and knowledge of it,” Miller said. “They will talk about the process, how they made it and how much time they spent on it.”
One of Miller’s favorite parts of judging is getting to see all of the different projects.
“It’s always fun to see the projects and the kid’s creativity,” Miller said.