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Youngsters carve their way to trophies with cheese at Washington County Ag Expo & Fair

July 23, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Dylan Krull, 11, of Harrisburg, Pa., works on his cheese carving of a taco Saturday during the Washington County Ag Expo and Fair in Sharpsburg.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

When 2-year-old Gabe Palm finished carving his block of cheese Saturday, he put his entry on the judge's table.

The contest judge, Rachel Humerick, 22, Miss Maryland Galaxy, called Gabe's artistic effort "a block of cheese."

Four of the 12 young contestants making up the field carved their way to trophies Saturday in the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair's children's cheese-carving contest.

Saturday also marked the opening day of the weeklong Ag Expo and Fair at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike south of Hagerstown. The event runs through July 30.

The cheese-carving contest is held to "connect kids with where their food comes from," said Leslie Hart, an agricultural marketing specialist for the Washington County Agricultural Education Center and organizer of the contest. "A lot of fairs hold cheese- and butter-carving contests. Some of them are life-size. This is where we're starting."

Last year, which was the first year the contest was held, the 12 contestants were a mix of children and adults. A local professional artist walked away with the top prize, Hart said.

"This year, we separated it. Today was for children 12 and under," Hart said. Adults will compete today from 1 to 3 p.m.

Saturday's contestants were after trophies in four categories — most imaginative, judge's choice, finest art and most fair-related.

The youngsters sat at a long table, their canvas a one-quarter pound to one-half pound chunk of yellow Cabot cheddar sitting on a styrofoam saucer. Plastic knives were supplied, but a few artists brought their own carving tools. They had an hour to finish, but none used up the whole time.

It became obvious that the young artists' imaginations ran wild as they plunked down their works.

Sara Veara, 7, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., carved an ear of corn to win the most fair-related trophy. Jacob Miller's hamburger won the 11-year-old the most imaginative prize.

The Leadingham family of Sharpsburg brought home two trophies. Alex, 10, won the finest art trophy for his jigsaw puzzle piece, and his sister, Helen, 9, carved a ribbon from her chunk to win the judge's choice trophy.

Among the runners-up were a doghouse, heart, flower, car, taco, butterfly and tiki house.

Also Saturday, the home art and 4-H exhibits were judged, said Daphne Sigler, president of the annual event. The week will be filled in with livestock judging, with the annual livestock auction scheduled for Thursday, she said.

Other highlights this week include:

  • Today — The Iron Chef competition, horse-pulling contest and bluegrass music
  • Monday — The Donald Schwartz Memorial Farm Tractor Pull, which involves farm equipment that has not been modified
  • Tuesday and Wednesday — Modified tractor- and truck-pulling contests
  • Thursday — Country music concert
  • Friday — Demolition derby
  • Saturday — Bull riding

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