Are you a budding chef or a wiz home baker? Maybe you love Spam? Does your homebrew rock?
The Kentucky State Fair's 321-plus cooking contests offer an opportunity for you to win ribbons, scholarships, prize money and state pride. Contest include: Kentucky Farm to School Junior Chef; Evan Williams Bourbon Cooking Competition; Gold Medal Flour Cookie Contest; Great American Spam Championship; Dole Canned Fruit Dessert Competition; and the Kentucky Pork Challenge. Plus 28 homebrewing categories (mead, anyone?), 23 homemade wine categories, 25 categories for cheese and dairy products, plus divisions for honey and honey cooking.
July 1 is the deadline to enter without paying a late fee. You can pay an extra $20 and enter through July 10. Enter online at Kystatefair.org.
■ Start planning your Picnic with the Pops "Nawlins" feast: The Lexington Philharmonic and conductor Scott Terrell have announced that trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and his International All-Stars will join them Aug. 14 and 15 at Keeneland's Meadow at the Keene Barn.
This year's theme is Night on Bourbon Street: a Tribute to Louis Armstrong.
Table-holders participating in the annual table decorating contest can interpret that any way they like. Prizes will be awarded both nights.
Tickets start at $15 each for general admission, with three tiers of tables seating for eight available, ranging from $200-$300. To purchase a table, call the Lexington Center Box office at (859) 233-3535. General admission tickets go on sale June 29 and are available atlexpops.com or through the Lexington Center Box Office at 432 West Vine Street.
Gates open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at dusk, around 8:30 p.m.. Food and beverage vendors also will be available on site.
■ Smithtown Seafood, 501 W. Sixth St., is participating in the James Beard Foundation Better Burger Project this summer. The project is a nationwide contest to create a "better burger" by blending ground meat with finely chopped mushrooms to cut calories, add flavor and create a more sustainable burger.
For the contest, Smithtown chef Jonathan Sanning created The Beef Well-ington burger, made from locally sourced beef with mushroom duxelles and served on a croissant with coffee-stout demi-glace, crumbled Kenny's Barren County Bleu Cheese, crispy buttermilk onions, roast garlic aïoli and FoodChain mustard microgreens.
Through July 31, diners can vote for their favorite burgers by posting a photo to Instagram with the hashtag #betterburgerproject and the restaurant's handle. The five chefs with the most votes win a trip to New York City for the annual James Beard Foundation Food Conference in October.
The Beef Well-ington also will be featured as Smithtown's special for Lexington's 2015 Burger Week, July 6-12. For information, go to Lexingtonburgerweek.com.
■ Azur Restaurant & Patio, 3070 Lakecrest Circle, will have a patriotic fish fry, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on July 3. Chef Jeremy Ashby will have Weisenberger cornmeal fried catfish, Country Boy Jalapeno Porter beer battered gator tail, frog legs picatta, lemon buttermilk Vidalia onion rings, and more for $35 per person. Reservations are required. Call (859) 296-1007.
■ The Lexington Farmers' Market location at the University of Kentucky is open even with the construction on Alumni Drive. Join the market on Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at ES Good Barn, located on UK Farm Drive near Commonwealth Stadium. On Thursdays during lunchtime hours, Hogfathers BBQ will be set up at the Lexington Farmers' Market on the corner of Maxwell and Broadway.
■ The Chew Dinner Series continues 7:30 p.m. July 16 at the Hunt Morgan House with a menu by chef Mark Wombles of Distilled at Gratz Park Inn and Heirloom in Midway. The dinner will feature local craft beer. Tickets are $40 each. A limited number are available online at Lexeffectky.com. Partial proceeds go to the LexEffect Giving fund. The next dinner will be Nov. 18 with Mark Jensen of Middle Fork Kitchen Bar.
■ Williams-Sonoma in Fayette Mall has cooking classes in July. At 2 p.m. July 11, learn about paella, a traditional Spanish dish of rice, seafood, vegetables and sausage. The in-house chef will present a masterclass on preparing a perfect paella, complete with rice, seasoning and the traditional pan. $30; call (859) 272-5856 to reserve a spot.
At 2 p.m. July 18, learn to make ice cream. The class will teach you to make sorbet, Philly Vanilly and great toppings, plus an ice cream sandwich. You'll leave the store with the Cuisinart ice cream maker and loads of ideas. $70; (859) 272-5856.
■ On July 10-11, the 9th annual Bluegrass International Cup will raise money for Fayette Alliance and Markey Cancer Foundation. On July 10, an Evening in the Gardens at Apiary Fine Catering & Events, 218 Jefferson St., begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails; dinner at 7 p.m. with a live auction following. Tickets $300 at Fayettealliance.com or (859) 281-1202. Deadline to purchase tickets is 5 p.m. July 6.
On July 11, the Bluegrass International Cup polo match takes place at Mount Brilliant Farm, 3314 Huffman Mill Pike. Tickets are $200 each or $175 each for four or more guests. Tent tickets include an open bar and heavy hors d'oeuvres catered by the Apiary. Deadline to purchase tickets if 5 p.m. July 8.
■ Jessica and Stephen Rose will bring their Peach Truck, on its fourth annual Free-stone Peach Tour, to King's Gardens, 4560 Nicholasville Road., from 9 to 11 a.m. on July 10 and July 31. They will have fresh, straight-from-the-farm Georgia peaches from the Pearson Farm in Fort Valley, Ga. Peaches are available only by the half bushel box (25 pounds of peaches) for $39.
■ West Coast gourmet burger franchise Stout Burgers & Beers opened in Louisville on June 29 at 1604 Bardstown Road. In addition to gourmet beef burgers, Stout's menu offers veggie burgers, chicken sandwiches and salads. Thirty diverse artisanal beers, including local varieties, will be on tap. Stout Louisville will be the first Stout location to stock a full bar featuring wine, spirits and bourbon.