This summer, there are plenty of opportunities to show off your cooking skills.
Lexington's annual Fourth of July Great American Pie Contest will be at noon June 30 at Cheapside Park. This year's competition has a new category: semi-homemade. You can use ready-made items such as pie crusts for this contest. Those who are skilled at making crusts and fillings can enter the "from scratch" competition.
There will be no professional category this year, but professionals may enter either category. Sullivan University culinary chefs and students will be judges. Entry forms are available by calling the mayor's office. Call (859) 258-3100 or go to www.lexingtonky.gov. The deadline is June 24.
State Fair contests
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The Kentucky State Fair competitions are the cream of the crop. No matter what your culinary specialty is, there's a contest. Here are some:
■ Ghirardelli Chocolate is looking for any type of chocolate creation. Create your recipe with at least one all-natural Ghirardelli baking product (chocolate chips, bars and/or cocoa), and as many as 10 other ingredients. Go to www.ghirardelli.com. Contest judging will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 23.
■ Any dessert pie using refrigerated pie crusts is eligible for the Pillsbury pie-baking championship. All first-place recipes from other state fair contests will be entered in America's Favorite Pie contest online. In November, go to www.Pillsbury.com/pie to vote. The recipe receiving the most online votes wins a year's supply of pie crusts. Judging is at 6 p.m. Aug. 24.
■ Fleischmann's Yeast Bake for the Cure has two categories: traditional or whole-grain yeast breads and baked goods. Judging will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 25.
■ The theme for Spam's recipe contest is mac 'n' cheese. Any dry pasta noodles and cheeses can be used. Judging will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 26.
■ The Malt-O-Meal recipe contest is looking for main dishes, snacks and desserts using the cereal. Go to www.malt-o-meal.com. Judging is at 6 p.m. Aug. 27.
The deadline for advance registration is July 1 for all the contests. Call (502) 367-5190 or go to www.kystatefair.org/entries/premiumBook.aspx. Click on "culinary" for entry details. The Kentucky State Fair runs Aug. 19-29 at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville.
White House calling
Sullivan University chef Derek Spendlove of Louisville was at the White House earlier this month to help launch Chefs Move to Schools.
Spendlove was one of 100 chefs chosen for the program, which is run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and pairs chefs with schools in their communities, with the goal of educating children about food and nutrition.
The Chefs Move to Schools pilot groups will work with the American Culinary Federation, the National Restaurant Association and Share Our Strength over the summer to prepare for their work with schools this fall.
Rate your farmers market
Is the farmers market you visit one of the best?
The American Farmland Trust is having an online contest to locate America's favorite farmers markets. The nationwide challenge will identify four farmers markets that can rally the most support from their customers. The goal is to promote the connection between fresh local food and the local farms and farmland that supply it. To vote, go to www.farmland.org/vote.