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Local bakers showcase their best creations at the fair

| September 30, 2015
Sharry Chapman, who had the overall best of show coconut cake at last year’s fair, is pictured with her brother Terry Thomas, who bought the cake.

Sharry Chapman, who had the overall best of show coconut cake at last year’s fair, is pictured with her brother Terry Thomas, who bought the cake.

COSHOCTON – Every year, the Rotary Pavilion is packed with activities and entertainment during the Coshocton County Fair. But none is as sweet (and tasty) as the pie and cake auction and the baked goods auction. This is where bakers who have been named best of show auction off their confectionery creations to a packed crowd of people hoping to be the highest bidder.

One such baker is Sharry Chapman who won best of show last year for her coconut cake, tea cake, nut fudge, berry pie, and canning. She has been exhibiting at the fair for approximately 40 years.

“I have never missed a fair,” she said. “I started exhibiting right out of high school and I haven’t missed a year. It’s a good time. I meet a lot of nice people at the fair and the girls I bake with became really good friends. Even though we’re competing, we share recipes, but we like to compete against each other.”

Chapman can’t remember a time when she wasn’t baking.

“I grew up on a farm, so baking was a part of my life,” she said. “I was helping my mother make bread when I could barely walk.”

In addition to the fair, Chapman has won other awards including recognition at Roscoe Village for her gingerbread houses and won a pie contest at the Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival.

This year, Chapman is planning on baking a chocolate cake and is also branching out into floral displays. She enjoys discovering new recipes and collects recipe books. The recipe for her best of show coconut cake was found in an old recipe book.

“My grandmother, my mother, and my aunt taught me so many things and I’ll always be grateful for that,” she said.

Last year was the first year that Lynda Hartsock entered pies in the county fair. She was pleasantly surprised when she won first place for her cherry and peach pies.

“My husband said, you’re a good cook, but your pies look terrible,” Hartsock said. “When I won first place for my cherry and peach pies, I turned to him and said, eat your words.”

Not only did Hartsock take first place in the cherry and peach pie class, but she also won best of show for her raisin-filled cookies. The recipe for her award-winning cookies came from her mother. She has been exhibiting at the fair for 20 years.

“I just enjoy it and enjoy the competition,” she said. “My daughter is doing it now and we’re competing against each other.”

This year, Hartsock has three pages full of baked goods she plans to enter at the fair.

“I like the looks on people’s faces when they taste it,” she said. “Whether they like it or not, I like to watch their reaction.”

When you think of cakes winning awards, you think of beautifully-decorated cakes with the perfect taste. But baker Bonnie Nelson received an award at last year’s fair for her ugly cake.

Nelson’s cake was decorated with worms and maggots, all edible of course, and it won first place in the ugly cake division.

“I was in the art hall one day and a little kid came through and said, ‘Ew, look at that. It’s got worms’,” she said, laughing.

For the last 10 years, Nelson has entered a cake every year. She began baking when her children were little.

“When my little girl was two or three years old, she wanted one of those stand up Barbie cakes,” said Nelson. “I bought one at a local bakery, and the kids wouldn’t eat it. That’s when I started baking.”

Nelson has been baking for the last 40 years, and still makes birthday cakes for her grandchildren.

“To me, it’s relaxing,” she said. “And just to see the little kids’ eyes when I bake them a cake, it’s amazing.”

She is planning to enter another cake in this year’s fair.

The baked goods auction is Friday, Oct. 2 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rotary Pavilion. The pie and cake auction is Monday, Oct. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rotary Pavilion.

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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