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State fairs are where champions compete and shine, particularly when it comes to cooking. What better way to showcase cooking champions than in a cookbook? The 2012 edition of the Official Missouri State Fair Cookbook, called, Celebrate Then and WOW, deserved a blue ribbon too!

For decades, Missouri State Fair organizers have partnered with Cookbook Publishers to preserve and present their grand champion recipes to the public. “I do not know who took on the task of organizing the first book, but I’m confident that many are glad they did,” said Tammie Nichols, Director of Marketing. “Prize-winning recipes from the best of the best cooks in Missouri, produced every two years? Now that’s a cookbook collection that belongs in every kitchen in the state!”

Competition at the state fair level is intense. More than 30,000 entries, from cooking to cows, are exhibited and judged in Sedalia, home of the fair since its inception in 1901. “As trends and lifestyles change, it has been reflected in the categories offered,” Tammy added. “This is what keeps generations coming back each year … the spirit of competition is still relevant!”The Official Missouri State Fair Cookbook

While embracing tradition, the organizers and superintendents approach the fair with fresh ideas each year, and they do the same to their cookbook. “We typically have a creative direction in mind when we begin, and use a design provided by Cookbook Publishers that fits our needs,” Tammy explained. “Their staff takes our vision to come up with a cohesive design that pulls the look together, from the cover to the inside dividers.” The results are eye-catching and inspiring. For 2012, for example, Cookbook Publishers’ retro-themed Vintage Label cover and divider set complemented the fair’s theme. Since the cookbooks are published on a two-year rotation, Celebrate Then and WOW featured winning recipes from 2010 and 2011.

The graphic arts team also customized the dividers to reflect the range in recipe submissions. Aside from the categories you’d expect, such as breads and desserts, there were also special sections just for men and juniors, as well as the celebrated Specialty Contests winners. These contests are highly anticipated and draw scores of participants.

“I think the theme for the 2012 fair, Celebrate Then and WOW, captured the tradition and heritage of the agriculture showcase,” she explained.  “For 110 years, families have made the trek to the Fair, leaving chores and jobs for a few days, not for the prize money or even the bragging rights, but rather for the memories to be made.” This State Fair cookbook is a memento of good times and great food.