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Homebrew and honey: Kickstarter campaign launched for DC State Fair

Tuesday - 8/13/2013, 8:25am  ET

The DC State Fair is kicking off its fourth annual September event with a Kickstarter campaign. (Screen Shot, Courtesy DC State Fair)

WASHINGTON - It's not a state, but that doesn't stop the District of Columbia from having a state fair.

Back for its fourth year, the annual DC State Fair is slated for Sept. 28. And this year, the nonprofit organization, comprised of five volunteer board members and five volunteer executive committee members, is looking to the community for help.

"We're trying to make this into a bigger, sounder event Eventually we would like to make this a standalone event," says Amelia Showalter, a DC State Fair co- founder and board member.

Currently the fair is held in conjunction with the Barrack's Row Fall Festival and is supported by sponsors and other donors.

To make the fair bigger and more accessible to everyone, the nonprofit launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal to raise $3,500. If that goal is reached, the fair will waive entry fees for its numerous contests.

"We want it to be really open. We want people to feel like they can enter easily," Showalter says. "It's still fairly small, compared to state fairs, elsewhere. We mainly offer contests for people to offer."

In 2012, Capitol Hill resident Esther Ventus entered the DC State Fair's cupcake contest for her third year in a row.

"I had learned so much more since my previous attempts and really thought I had a better chance of winning," says Ventus, 34.

Ventus entered two cupcakes: a salted caramel apple cupcake and a chocolate cupcake filled with a Chambord-infused ganache and fresh raspberry puree, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting. The latter earned her first place -- a $100 gift card and a chance to conduct a baking demonstration at the P Street Whole Foods.

"That was a truly amazing experience," says Ventus, who says last year's fair attracted roughly 20-30 bakers in the cupcake contest.

Also an area baker, Emily Dalphy submitted her homemade grape and fig pie in the 2012 DC State Fair pie contest with about 40 other pie hopefuls.

"Honestly, I was trying to go for most creative pie," says Dalphy, a 27-year-old local who started baking about four years ago. "I did a trial run of the filling on the stove to taste test, and when both my boyfriend and I tasted it, we thought it was different and kinda strange, but we couldn't stop eating it! The pie just had to happen."

For those who are not bakers, the fair has plenty of other contests, such as knitting, photography, gardening and a kids' poetry competition.

"We really introduced a lot of new things in the last few years," Showalter says.

One of the more recently added competitions at the DC State Fair is the honey contest.

"I would never have imagined that there were so many beekeepers in D.C. There were 15 entries in the honey contest (last year), and I am sure not even every single beekeeper in D.C. entered," Showalter says. "People come out of the woodwork and are just really interested in entering."

Another popular contest at the fair is the homebrewing contest.

Cody Gabbard and Peter Jones have been making beer for about three years. At the time of last year's fair, the 29-year-old D.C. residents felt pretty confident in a bohemian pilsener they made. They entered the beer in the DC State Fair homebrew contest.

"We were pretty confident in that year's brew and happy with how it turned out. We enter about four-to-five contests a year, and this one is eight blocks from my apartment," Gabbard says.

The two homebrewers have also claimed top honors at a recent festival in Maryland and at the DC Homebrewer's Club's annual competition.

"It's always good to get feedback on your beer from judges. This competition also had a low barrier of entry -- we only had to submit a few bottles," Jones says.

When asked if they plan to compete again in this year's brewing contest at the fair, Gabbard says, "Of course, gotta' defend that title!"

Watch the video below about the 2013 DC State Fair

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