Gobbling up the Montezuma County Fair

On the menu: Salsa, jalapeños, squash, barbecue and desserts

Bailey Littlefield makes a face as she competes in the jalapeño-eating contest at the fair. This year the contest is Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Enlargephoto

Journal File/Sam Green

Bailey Littlefield makes a face as she competes in the jalapeño-eating contest at the fair. This year the contest is Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

The Montezuma County Fair gets cooking next week. The first culinary event is a 4-H Club cake-decorating contest.

Held inside the main barn, the cake-decorating competition is served at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 29. The contest is open to 4-H Club members only.

“The winner in each unit is eligible to go to the Colorado State Fair,” said Montezuma County Extension assistant Cheryl Young.

Unit 1, the rookies, include 8-year-old contestants, who have 30 minutes to frost the cake, apply design using edible materials, place the border and clean up their area. Competitors in Unit 7, professionals between the ages of 11 and 14, have an hour to decorate.

“They receive ribbons for winning at the county fair,” said Young. “The Grand Champion of the contest also receives an embroidered duffel bag.”

The good times should continue to pop off with a bubble-blowing contest at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 31. For children of any age, the contest includes diving head-first into a pie tin filled with whip cream in search of a piece of bubble gum.

“Whoever finds the gum and blows a bubble first wins,” said Sheri Noyes, of Kalvin’s Kids 4-H Club.

Later that day, prepare to have your gourd blown with the inaugural largest squash competition at 2 p.m. The Alpaca 4-H Club sponsors the fun community event inside the main barn.

“Any type of squash is eligible,” said Nancy Nelligan. “Bring your squash out, and we’ll weigh it.”

Nelligan encouraged growers to check under their squash leaves for a potential winner, because in addition to bragging rights, the winner receives a certificate of authenticity.

Next up, entries for the chili and salsa competition are accepted inside the main barn at 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1. The public is invited to taste and judge the spicy stews and sauces at 5 p.m.

According to the county fair entry form, chili must be contained in a working crock pot and can contain any kind of meat or combination of meats cooked with chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, such as beans. The entry form describes salsa, which must be contained in a plastic container at least 7 inches in diameter, as a spicy sauce of chopped, usually uncooked vegetables or fruit, especially tomatoes, onions and chili peppers.

“Each contestant must provide two quarts of competition chili or salsa to be submitted for judging,” said county fair board member Kathi Marler.

Judged by the public, the competition is based on flavor, texture, consistency, blend of spices, aroma and color. First-and second-place prizes will be awarded for best chili and best salsa.

On Saturday, Aug. 2, the fair heats things up with a jalapeño-eating contest at 10:30 a.m. Sponsored by the Bunnies and More 4-H Club, the competition starts with 10 pickled jalapeño peppers on a paper plate. (Say that three times fast).

“We see who can eat the most jalapeños in 10 minutes,” said Barbara Zeutzius. “We have a category for men, women and kids 12 and under.”

In previous years, the contest wasn’t timed. Zeutzius recalled a woman eating about 30 peppers in 20 minutes.

“Afterward, lots of people have said, ‘I shouldn’t have done that,’” she said.

Zeutzius said competitors were allowed to drink or eat any other foods they wish during the contest inside the main barn. Several prizes are up for grabs.

“We have trash cans nearby,” said Zeutzius. “Some people can’t keep them down.”

A corn-shucking contest starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2. Sixteen teams of four are slated to shuck 750 ears of corn for a traveling trophy.

The corn will be included in a chuck wagon dinner held that evening under the grandstands. The dinner bell rings at 5 p.m.

“Our annual chuck wagon dinner has become one of the most popular events of the fair, said Montezuma County Fair board president Todd King. “This year, we are expecting 750 guests.”

Tickets are $15 per plate. Joining fresh shucked corn on the menu, smoked brisket or pulled pork prepared by Jimmer’s Back Country BBQ, local pinto beans donated by Jack Tanner, along with rolls and peach cobbler made with flour donated by Cortez Milling. Seconds will be served if available.

No gastronomic experience would be complete without a sugary treat, so plan to bring a doggy bag in case you win the dessert auction at 6 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Southwestern Cowbells.

“The dessert auction is always a glorious mix of pies, cakes, cookies, breads, jams, and when all the stars align, chokecherry syrup,” said King.