For the hundreds of food competitors at the Iowa State Fair, victory not only is sweet; it's lucrative.
If judges have a soft spot for your cinnamon rolls, that's a $3,000 payday. If your Latin dish blows away the competition, you could leave $500 richer. And if your tofu creation wows judges in the "It's Soy Amazing" contest, that's $250 in your pocket.
In food contests starting this week at the Iowa fair and later this month at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, home cooks will enter everything from peach pies to pickles, cookies to casseroles. Their goal is to dazzle the taste buds of judges and walk away with ribbons, cash, kitchen gear and other prizes.
Iowa's fair, which kicks off Thursday in Des Moines and runs through Aug. 19, has the largest state-fair food competition in the country. This year there are 239 divisions, 893 classes and $64,815 in prize money.