Many who visit the Shippensburg Community Fair each July will tell you they go merely for the vast array of foods they can indulge in throughout the week.

Whether they are referring to the countless selections at the nonprofit food stands, or the yummy baked goods entered into the Home Products Division contests, many fair-goers can’t get enough of the offerings made by talented community members.

Tuesday evening, July 23, will surely satisfy any sweet tooth as crowds of people flock to the Home Products buildings to bid top dollar to indulge in the array of homemade goodies.

The Baked Goods contests will get underway between 9 a.m. and noon Tuesday as the competitors bring in their entries for judging. More than two dozen volunteers will help prepare the room, lining entries of pies, cakes, cookies, brownies and candies along long tables. 

Jodie Popio, co-chair of the baked goods department, is one of the many volunteers who look forward to seeing and smelling all of those deliciously created items each year.

“There are so many talented bakers out there who enter a wide range of items each year, that it always amazes me when I see folks making their way to the registration line with their goodies in tow,” Popio added. “The Shippensburg Fair is small in comparison to where I came from, but it is such a close-knit community, and to see how everyone supports the fair and each other, I think is just super!”

“There are so many unique items that are entered in the contests each year, for instance, green tomato pie. I had never heard of that before I moved here,” she continued. “In addition, to see all the beautifully decorated cakes and cookies and all sorts of pies that people bake is pretty neat, too.”

Originally from Lock Haven, Popio said she is used to seeing Lemon Sponge and Mince Meat pies, as well as other Pennsylvania Dutch favorites that she grew up with, including sticky buns and homemade rolls. Having participated in other local and state fairs, she is familiar with the friendly competition everyone enjoys, but she said believes the sense of community and friendship throughout the week is really what encourages folks to participate, and become involved with the fair itself. “Everyone is so friendly, and so willing to jump right in and do whatever needs to be done to make the entire process go smoothly, and to me that really speaks volumes about the fair itself, and those who work so hard to make the fair successful each year.”

Popio has been a volunteer for the past 10 years, thanks in part to her neighbor, Vivian Diller.

“Vivian invited me to come along with her when we first moved here from Ohio. She has been a volunteer for gosh, probably 25 years or more,” Popio explained. “I was happy to go and check things out that first year, and I guess you could say I was hooked because I’ve been going ever since!”

She said she really enjoys seeing friends that she’s made over the years, folks that she doesn’t see throughout the year except at fair time.

“It really is a lot of fun, and to see all of the talented people we have in the community year after year is just great!” She said there are so many different categories to enter that there really is something for everyone.

“Whether you’re into baking, crafting, gardening, sewing or photography, you can find your niche at the fair.”

She also likes the fact that different committees encourage new ideas. “Two years ago we added a gluten-free category to the baked goods entries,” she noted. “We had someone enter a gluten-free item in the competition, but didn’t have any other gluten-free items at the time, so we thought that because of the amount of people who can’t have gluten in their diets, it might be a good idea to add this category, so we did.” She said this gives those who may not have been able to participate in the past, an opportunity to participate in the future.”

Popio encourages everyone to stop by and check out the fair, especially the Home Products buildings.

She said it is really neat to see how much talent there is in the community, and it is also a great way to support the fair and be part of the experience that only comes around once a year!

For a complete schedule of events, visit: www.shippensburgfair.com. See our complete guide to the fair in today’s paper, as well. It is inserted in the back of the Weekend Edition. 

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