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Valerie Phillips: It's time to start working on your contest recipes

There are a few weeks left to do some home canning, bread baking or candy making to enter the Utah State Fair's Home Arts Foods exhibits.

Those who prefer baking for bucks instead of blue ribbons can test their skills in one of the recipe contests and take home up to $300.

In some cases, the winners go on to compete nationally. Even if you don't win one of the top prizes, many contests give product samples or gift certificates to entrants. And, you also get an gate entry pass into the fair.

You can find all the contest rules and entry forms online at www.utahstate-fair.com.

And a word of advice: Follow the rules to the letter.

As a judge for some of these contests, I've been saddened to see great-tasting entries eliminated because rules weren't followed.

For instance, pies were submitted in a fancy glass plate instead of the specified disposable pan; recipes contained too many ingredients or not enough of the sponsor product.

It may not sound fair, but following the rules is just part of competitions.

Here's a run-down of this year's competitions and their first-place prizes:

GHIRARDELLI CHOCOLATE CHAMPIONSHIP

Sept. 10, 7 p.m.

First place: $150

FLEISCHMANN'S YEAST BAKE FOR THE CURE BAKING CONTEST

Sept. 11, 7 p.m.

First place: $150

LINDSAY OLIVE LOVERS SALAD CHALLENGE

Sept. 12, 11 a.m.

First place: $100

UTAH BEEF COUNCIL DUTCH OVEN MYSTERY BAG COOK-OFF

Sept. 12, noon-7 p.m.

First place: $300

BUDWEISER CHILI COOK-OFF

Sept. 17, 5-9 p.m.

First place: $300

FRESH MADE SALSA COMPETITION

Sept. 17, 6 p.m.

First place: $75

UTAH FARM BUREAU GREAT AMERICAN DUTCH OVEN COOK-OFF

Sept.19 Noon-7 p.m.

First place: $300

Qualifier for IDOS World Championship Cook-off 2010

UTAH'S BIG BROWNIE BAKE-OFF

Sept. 12, 2 p.m.

First place: $200

Best children's entry: $50

GREAT AMERICAN SPAM CHAMPIONSHIP

Sept. 12, 7 p.m.

First place: $150

National grand prize: Trip to the SPAM Jamboree in Hawaii

Kid Chef winner: $60

National Kid Chef : $2,000

MAKE IT WITH MALT-O-MEAL

Sept. 14, 7 p.m.

First place: $100

THE GOVERNOR'S FAVORITE PIE CONTEST

Sept. 15, 7 p.m.

First place: $150

SOUP IT UP WITH SACO

Sept. 16, 7 p.m.

First place: $150

PORK RECIPE CONTEST

Sept. 17, 7 p.m.

First place: $250

C & H COOKIE CONTEST

Sept. 18, 7 p.m.

First place: $75

KING ARTHUR GREAT CAKE CONTEST

Sept. 19, 11 a.m.

First place: $150

BEEF IS FOR BREAKFAST RECIPE CONTEST

Sept. 19, 1 p.m.,

First place: $300

HIDDEN VALLEY FRESH TASTE FOR THE FAMILY RECIPE CONTEST

Sept. 19, 7 p.m.,

First place: $200

National grand prize: $2,000

e-mail: Vphillips@desnews.com