Tag: State fair

State Fair Blue Ribbon Baking Season 2022

Hey you! You’re here! And we are so glad you are! You are in the right place if… vying for the best cookies, cakes or pies at your local fair is a thing for you, or you want it to be. Or maybe you just like to eat blue ribbon goodies. Whatever the case, stay tuned for 2022 blue ribbon baking opportunities and other highlights about the upcoming state fair season.

State Fair Blue Ribbon Baking Season 2022

Watch for:

  • Low-To-No-Sugar Showdown at 5 state fairs, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, and Arkansas. We want to see your best baked goods with little to no sugar in them and made with Splenda products.
  • Minnesota State Fair blue ribbon baking contest series that features 7 new special contests and spans all baking classes and categories (ranging from sourdough to salads). Find a detailed round-up and tips for entering: here. Our key sponsors are Kowalski’s Markets, King Arthur Baking Company, and the Splenda brand for this line-up.
  • State Fair of Texas baking contest series that features multi-class contests and special prizes/giveaways. Blue ribbon bragging rights await the best cookie, cake, bread, and pie bakers (classic and low/no sugar entries). Look also for a new “game-day” themed contest. This line-up was made possible by Tom Thumb stores and Splenda.
  • National recognition of blue ribbon baked greatness, state by state, or region by region

State Fair Hosts – Upcoming Dates

Here’s a quick run-down of when each fair is, a link to competition departments, and their pre-registration deadlines. Plus, check out each fair’s most popular winning recipe on our site.

If you are a state fair wanting to partner with us, drop us a line here.

If you are a blue ribbon baker with a great recipe you want us to consider featuring, please share it here.

In the News

We were invited on the ABC Minneapolis affiliate, KSTP channel 5’s “Minnesota Live program.” We gave the hosts and viewers a sneak peek at our Minnesota State Fair special recipe contest series. Check it out here.


Swedish Meatball Sandwich

Inspired by our love of the Minnesota State Fair’s Blue Barn food vendor and their former menu item, the Swedish Meatball Smörgås, we created this Swedish Meatball Sandwich. We don’t generally feature state fair foods here but we simply couldn’t resist making a homemade version of this one.

Swedish Meatball Sandwich Closeup

Served on pretzel rolls, this creation features juicy meatballs topped with a warm, delicious gravy. Diced dill pickles and lingonberry preserves on top give a delightful punch of sour and sweet. It is a perfect meal when the temperatures are cooler, you are missing the state fair, or you want your food to give you a hug =) It is comfort food at its finest.

Smörgås means open sandwich. Some consider the Italian hoagie and the Southern Po Boy as its counterparts. Key with this creation is using a hard roll or bun that’s firm enough to carry the weight of the meatballs and toppings. Then simply serve it open-face style. This ends up a knife-and-fork type sandwich. It generally doesn’t work as a hand-held meal. Using utensils helps create the “perfect bite” each time: meatball, gravy, bread, pickles, and preserves. 2 Swedish Meatball Sammies

Preparations Tips

Once the meatballs are in motion, I like prepping everything for quick assembly once they are fully heated. The gravy takes some time to thicken and you wan to keep that warm. Then it’s just a matter of assembling. Wedge the meatballs in the roll, then layer on the gravy, pickles, and preserves.

Swedish Meatball Sandwich - Deconstructed

Tailor to Your Taste Preferences

When we made this Swedish Meatball Sandwich for the first time, we used frozen meatballs, pretzel rolls and a simple homemade gravy.

Pretzel rolls, frozen meatballs

That said, feel free to use variations to tailor this Swedish Meatball Sandwich to your own tastes. A few examples:

  • Headed to Ikea? Pick up their frozen Huvudroll meatballs.
  • Want some heat and extra zing? Put hot sauce and extra ground black pepper in the gravy, which amps up the flavor.
  • Can’t find lingonberry preserves? Try cranberry or another tart fruit or flavor.
  • Use chicken, ground turkey, or all-beef meatballs, such as the Cooked Perfect brand. Simek’s and Good & Gather are also available locally (in Minnesota).
  • Morph this into a classic meatball hoagie with an all-beef meatball, spaghetti sauce, and shredded mozzarella.
  • If you prefer making your own meatballs, go for it: go with a plant-based meat, or any type of meatball you enjoy making. The world is your oyster, err…meatball.
  • Also, if you can’t find a pretzel roll, try a baguette or ciabatta roll. I prefer anything sturdy that won’t get soggy.

Swedish Meatball Sandwich-1st Step

Note, the gravy portion of this Swedish Meatball Sandwich recipe is from Nedra–who tested recipes with me for many years. We use her traditional Swedish meatball gravy from her church’s annual Swedish meatball and lutefisk fundraiser. So, in other words, it’s a tried and true gravy recipe.

By the way, if you don’t recall the Blue Barn’s Swedish Meatball Smörgås, maybe this will refresh your memory.

Smorgas Re-Do Swedish Meatball Sandwich

We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did making and noshing on it. And if you want a perfect dessert pairing, make ahead this delightful Cookies & Cream Ice Cream. You’ll love that too!



Bake Your Best for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair

Calling all Blue Ribbon Foodies & Minnesota State Fair Lovers!!

Hit the kitchen and let’s bake together for the Great Minnesota Get-Back-Together! To celebrate the official return of our hometown Minnesota State Fair in 2021, the Blue Ribbon Group is sponsoring four special baking contests at the Minnesota State Fair including:

  • Best Banana Bread
  • Best Fruit Pie
  • Best Drop Cookie
  • Best Coconut Cake

Cash Prizes & Kudos

For this “Blue Ribbon Baking Day” at the fair, we’ve organized $175 in prizes for each competition, plus there will be special recognition for blue ribbon winners across several broader baking categories: Cookies, Cakes, Pies, and Breads. Don’t miss this treasured tradition that hundreds of Minnesotans take part in every year. You’ll rub elbows with like-minded home cooks and hobby bakers on “baking drop-off day” and once the fair opens see what wins in display cases throughout the Creative Activities Building. The experience is also a wonderful warm-up for the upcoming holiday baking season.

Special Thanks to our prize partner, King Arthur Baking Company. 

King Arthur Baking Company

Blue Ribbon Baking Contest Series: Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 9:30am – 1pm (Competitors: Sign Up by Aug 10, 4:30pm)

All registration goes through the Minnesota State Fair competition department. Registration is free! There’s also no obligation if you later can’t participate. Go to the Competitions/Creative Activities/Baked Products section at MNStateFair.org to sign up (under the Participants tab). Three quick-start tips:

  • Create your online account here
  • For step-by-step guidance, go here.
  • Sign up for the Competition Department email list here and be sure to choose “Creative Activities” as your email list.

Best Drop Cookies Blue Ribbon Cake Blue Ribbon Pie: Blueberry Rhubarb Strawberry Pie Best Banana Bread


Sign Up!   *********************Registration is Closed; Stay Tuned for Follow-Up Posts **************************************

  • Registration is open now. It closes August 10 at 4:30pm. No late registrations are allowed so don’t miss the deadline
  • Registration is FREE
  • You drop off your entry the Saturday before the fair opens, so it’s easy in, easy out. Drop off is 9:30am to 1pm on Saturday, August 21. You can even have a friend drop it off if you can’t make it
  • Open to Minnesota residents only

If you are on social media, be sure to follow BLUE RIBBBON FOODIES on Instagram or Facebook (or both =). Help us grow. Like and comment on what you see there. Save and share your favorite posts. Also, stay tuned here for inspiration and award-winning recipes from Minnesota and across the country.

Want to see all the official rules? Download them here.

Good luck. We’ll be cheering for you all!

Cyndi & Crystal (aka The Blue Ribbon Group & Blue Ribbon Foodies)