FLETCHER — During his first year as North Carolina Mountain State Fair director, Sean McKeon wasn’t sure how things would turn out.
Now he feels like part of the Fair family.
“The biggest surprise is how close the people who work here are year after year. I heard it’s a big family, and I would totally agree,” he said. Friday, as The Fair 2022 entered its final three days at the WNC. Agricultural center. “The experience was excellent. As you can imagine, as a newcomer, I had a lot to learn…fortunately the staff here at the Center are very generous with their patience and knowledge.”
Although heavy rain on Saturday caused a drop in attendance, overall numbers are up from a year ago, according to Heather Overton, deputy director of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. .
“As for the last three days of the Fair, we are at 86,661,” she said on Friday. “Attendance increased from last year for every day except Saturday due to rain.”
The Fair’s attendance record is 191,596 – which was set in 2013. Total attendance for 2021 was 125,998, Overton said.
“We’ve had some record-breaking nights in terms of attendance, and we’re certainly doing a lot better than last year both in terms of attendance and revenue,” McKeon said. “People want to return to normalcy in their lives, and the Mountain State Fair helps them do that for a few hours each day.”
There were also record numbers of entries to breeding shows and events, McKeon said.
“I feel the mood is upbeat among our valued attendees. I have spoken to many exhibitors this week, and the joy they express and the pride they exude when they show me what they do and , more importantly, why they do what they do warms my heart,” he said.
With the first experience under his belt, McKeon said he hopes to return as manager next year and in the years to come.
“The Lord counts all of our days, and if he, in his wisdom, allows me to continue in this role, yes, I will be here with some of the finest colleagues I have ever worked with, serving the people of the western North Carolina, he said.
Two Buncombe County residents claim prizes in cooking competitions
Cooking contests continued at the fair and two Buncombe County residents won blue ribbons. Susie Zuerner placed first in the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Beef Council’s Classic Comfort Food contest, and Liam Robertson won first place in the North Carolina Egg Association’s Coffee Cake Recipe Contest.
The Classic Comfort Food contest encouraged contestants to comfort themselves in all of their favorite classic beef dishes, such as meatloaf, stroganoff and meatballs, according to a press release. Each recipe had to contain at least three ounces of beef and was judged on taste, creativity and appearance. Zuerner took first place and won $200 for his Denver Ragu. Sharon Gates placed second and won $150 for her Smokin’ Good Cheeseburgers, and Martin Gates placed third and won $100 for his Beefy Stuffed Peppers.
The coffee cake recipe competition encouraged participants to show how eggs can make a coffee cake “extraordinary”. All recipes had to contain at least three eggs and were judged on creativity, taste, ease of preparation and appearance. Robertson placed first and won $200 for his Blueberry Tart coffee cake. Zuerner placed second and won $150 for her Peach Coffee Cake, and Connie Pegg placed third and won $100 for her Sweet Potato Bacon and Maple Coffee Cake. All winners were from Buncombe County.
Here are the winning beef and egg recipes:
Blueberry Tart Coffee Cake
½ cup melted butter (salted)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
The cake mix
¼ cup melted (salted) butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 NC eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 ½ cup blueberries
8 ounces of cream cheese
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 NC egg
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.
Breadcrumb filling: In a bowl, combine the melted butter, flour, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
The cake mix: In another bowl, whisk together the butter, oil and sugar. Then add the eggs, vanilla, sour cream, lemon juice and zest. Mix together. Then add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until blended. Stir in blueberries, without breaking up, and set aside.
Filling: In another bowl, with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and lemon zest until fluffy.
To assemble: Spread half of the cake batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the filling in the center. Top with remaining cake batter and spread evenly. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly. Bake for 70 minutes.
Icing: Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice. Let the cake cool to room temperature and pour the frosting on top.
Garnish: (optional) Add fresh blueberries or lemon for garnish.
1.5 pounds Denver cut steak
2 small sweet onions, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pint sliced mini bella mushrooms
1 glass of red wine
2 small bay leaves
¼ teaspoon of thyme
1 cup beef broth or broth
1 can of 6 oz tomato paste
1 can 12 oz roasted garlic diced tomatoes
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste
8 ounces of Fettuccini pasta
Parsley to garnish
In a large saucepan (10 inches or more), drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Pat the Denver cut steaks dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Once the oil begins to smoke slightly, place the steaks in the pan and sear all four sides. While the meat sears, roughly chop the onions and mince the garlic. Remove the meat from the skillet. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and caramelize. Return the steaks to the onion mixture and pour the red wine over everything to deglaze the pan. Stir in tomato paste, diced tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme. Add the beef broth and stir. Cover and simmer for three hours, basting occasionally. About 15 minutes before serving cook the pasta and drain. Add the parsley then salt and pepper the pasta, drizzle with olive oil. Place the pasta in a serving bowl and place the steaks over the pasta. Remove the bay leaves from the sauce. Pour over the sauce in the skillet and serve.