There is plenty to smile about and much to look forward to as eager exhibitors from across the state prepare to enter their food, household art and preservation items at the 2000 Missouri State Fair, Aug. 10 to 20, in Sedalia.

With the July 20 entry deadline approaching, future fair contenders are busy perfecting old family recipes and putting finishing touches on sewing projects and other household articles to be displayed during the annual 11-day event. Visitors to the fair will be able to see the fruits of this labor, from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. daily.

While continuing with tradition, several new areas of competition have been added to the department this year. Fair visitors can expect to see such new home economics categories as a "Millennium" craft, a Benefit Baby Blanket (for Tiger Tots), a "Pig" craft (sponsored by the Missouri Pork Producers Association), a "Rusty Tin primitive" craft, the Clabber Girl Baking Powder "Best Ever Biscuit Contest" and amateur and professional wedding cake divisions.

Returning special contests are also sure to bring about a smile, with such favorites as the national "Best Spam Recipe" competition. Scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 12, this national competition is celebrating its 10th year at state fairs throughout the country. Always a favorite, the "Mystery Sack" contest will have participants scurrying around to create a tasty dish using only the ingredients found in their bag. These creative and resourceful contestants can be seen Monday, Aug. 14. Meanwhile, the question of who has the fastest fingers in Missouri will be answered Wednesday, Aug. 16, as Herrschners brings back popular crochet and knitting contests.

Further information on home economics competitions, including regulations and official entry forms, can be found in the 2000 Missouri State Fair Premium Book. For a free copy, call 660-530-5600, or toll-free 800-422-3247. The information also can be accessed on the Missouri State Fair web site, at www.mostatefair.com.

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