Area residents win best of division for baked and decorated food entries at San Diego County Fair

Lake Elsinore’s Robin Ralls and Temecula Valley High School graduate Virginia Kunkel both entered the baked and decorated foods competition of the San Diego County Fair for the first time this year, and both won best of division awards.

Ralls won best of division among candies while also winning first place in the truffles class for her java chocolate chip truffle in dark chocolate.  “It far exceeded my expectations.  My hope was to do well, to win a ribbon.  Then I saw that blue ribbon next to my name and it was an extremely overwhelming, happy moment,” Ralls said.

Kunkel won the best of division prize for cakes with her French chocolate mousse cake entry which also took first place in the chocolate class.  “I was really, really pleased that they really liked my chocolate cake,” Kunkel said.

Ralls is originally from San Diego County; she was raised in Vista.  She has lived in Lake Elsinore for the past nine years.  This year’s San Diego County Fair was the first in which she had entered any food.

“I entered it with extremely high hopes,” Ralls said.  “I was confident and nervous going into it.”

Ralls won ribbons for three of her entries.  Her raspberry crème truffles entry took second place in the truffles class, and she also won an honorable mention ribbon in the fudge class for her creamy peanut butter fudge double layer with milk chocolate.

“It was a very thrilling and exciting and wonderful experience,” Ralls said.

Ralls had a total of five entries; she also entered butter toffee with almonds and plain fudge with no nuts.

Kunkel also took a second-place ribbon for her banana bread with chocolate swirl which was entered in the bananas with or without nuts class of the quick breads and pastries division.

Kunkel moved from Temecula to Oceanside two months ago.  She submitted three entries on-line by the May deadline but was not able to complete her decorated cake entry by the time the food itself had to be submitted.

The entries are judged before the fair opens.  A recipe accompanies the food, and the recipes of winners are used in the following year’s fair cookbook.  

“Looking forward to having my recipe in the recipe book next year,” Kunkel said.

The participants, as well as those who visited the Home and Hobby exhibit on the day the fair opened, learned the results of the awards selection June 7.  

“I burst out into tears.  I felt like I had won a beauty pageant,” Ralls said of her best of division award.

“I’m already planning what I’m going to do next year,” she added.

 “My win has inspired me to try to start selling my desserts,” Kunkel said.  “I’m excited.”

‘I’m very grateful to the fair and the staff for the opportunity,” Ralls said.  “It was an absolutely wonderful experience.”

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