From cupcakes to cookies, sundaes to sausages

Enterprise file photo — Mike Seinberg

A beacon in the night, drawing a look from a passing band of boys, this is one of the many food vendors along the midway offering a variety of fair fare; a booth next door sells the quintessential fair cuisine, cotton candy.

ALTAMONT — Food-loving fair-goers will discover new treats in Altamont this year, from contests featuring all things chocolate, to a locally-famous food truck serving nothing but breakfast.

The Altamont Fair will welcome Gwenie’s Breakfast Wagon, a relatively new Schenectady-based food truck, as one of its vendors this year. The truck will serve breakfast all day, every day at the fair; the menu covers the basics, like pancakes, French toast, and egg sandwiches, but also includes specialty items, like eggs, ham, and cheese served as a sandwich on French toast.

Gwenie’s gained some recognition this summer after being chosen to compete in a food-truck cook-off on the daytime talk show Kelly & Michael on WRGB. The breakfast truck made it into the top 10 as a semi-finalist in the competition. A winner has not yet been chosen.

A new candy vendor, Kelly’s Country Store, from Grand Island, will bring old-fashioned candy — licorice, root beer barrels, peach stones, and snaps — and gourmet milk and dark chocolates to the fairgrounds.

Not new, but improved, said fair manager Marie McMillen, is the fair’s giant ice cream sundae. On Wednesday, at 2 p.m. in front of the Farmhouse Museum, volunteers will create an ice cream sundae, in a children’s plastic swimming pool, large enough to feed more than 600 people. Last year, said McMillen, the sundae served about 400 people, and she wanted to go bigger this year.

Stewart’s Shops is sponsoring the sundae-building, and McMillen said it would probably use more than 10 cases of ice cream. The fair also received donations of different kinds of Hershey’s toppings.

After the sundae is finished, the volunteers will dish it up, free of charge, to serve to visitors.

The Blue Ribbon Cooking Center, under the direction of Monica Bush, will hold the usual contests, particularly the canned-goods competition, titled “Bring Out Your Best,” with awards from Ball and Kerr Home Canning. There are both adult and youth levels, for canned foods in categories such as vegetables, fruits, condiments, jams, and jellies. Canned foods are judged on characteristics like color, clarity of liquid, size and shape of the food, and use of space.

The baked-goods competition, with entries ranging from pastries to bread, will be another old stand-by.

Special competitions this year include a cupcake challenge, in which participants bring three cupcakes decorated with their interpretation of an “All-American” theme. The cupcake competition will be a “people’s choice” contest, said Bush; fair attendees passing through the Blue Ribbon Cooking Center can cast votes for their favorite cupcake, and the votes will be tallied at the end of the day. Participants must arrive at the fair gate, with the cupcakes, by 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Altamont Orchards and Indian Ladder Farms are co-sponsoring a cake contest, asking participants to bake a cake with a fruit. The fruit can be canned, dried, or fresh, and multiple fruits may be used. The cakes will be judged on flavor, texture, appearance, and creativity, and awards will be gift certificates from the sponsors.

Another new competition is called “Anything Chocolate” and pretty much “anything goes,” said Bush, as long as it is homemade and contains chocolate. It could be cookies, cake, pie, candy, or even something savory, like chili with cocoa powder, said Bush. The chocolate foods will be judged on taste and presentation, and the winners will be awarded Hershey products. Participants must arrive at the fair gate, with the chocolate treats, by 6 p.m. on Friday.

Not new, but always popular, is the King Arthur Flour Baking Contest, featuring chocolate-chip cookies. The cookies —each contestant must provide at least six — are to be baked from scratch, and participants have to bring either the open bag of King Arthur brand flour, or the UPC label from the bag. Cookies will be judged on taste, creativity, and texture. Winners will be awarded with either a gift certificate, or a cookbook. The entry deadline for cookies is Saturday, at 6:45 p.m.

A food challenge that doesn’t involve cooking is the egg-flipping competition. Any fair attendee can enter, free of charge, to flip as many eggs as possible, using only a frying pan, without breaking the yolk. Serious flippers can bring their own frying pans. Winners will be awarded with a gift certificate to the Home Front Café or the Chuck Wagon Diner.

Other activities taking place in the Blue Ribbon Cooking Center are a “Juicing for Health Demonstration,” by Jim Haas, on Tuesday evening; a wine tasting on Wednesday night; cookie-decorating on Friday afternoon; cupcake decorating on Saturday afternoon, with the Altamont Fair princesses; and a canning demonstration, by Sandra Varno, from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, on Sunday.