Canadian County 4-H Foodtacular a tasty success

Flock of foodies show some flair at Expo Center

Bella Hart of the Maple 4-H Club pipes icing onto her beach-inspired cupcake design during the countywide 4-H Foodtacular Cupcake Wars. (Photo by Cara Pattison)

By Cara Pattison
Contributing Writer

EL RENO – While it’s said you can have too many cooks in the kitchen, Canadian County 4-Hers disagree.

A flock of foodies with a flair for culinary showmanship met for a county-wide competition at the Canadian County Fairgrounds Expo Center on Saturday, Feb. 19 to compete in the Annual 4-H “Foodtacular” event.

Organized by OSU Extension of Canadian County 4-H Youth Development 4-H educators Todd Branson and Alexis Graham, the event was a tasty success. Their fellow educators Donna Stangl-Jung and Mayra Lisset Plascencia added some flavor that day to help keep events rolling smoothly.

Kids ranging in age from third to 12th grade brought their finest culinary skills to compete and make new friends, Graham said.

“This is a fun event that brings kids in the county together. Many 4-Hers have food, nutrition, or cooking as their annual project area, and the Foodtacular gives them a place to showcase their skills, such as culinary techniques, food presentation, kitchen safety, and public speaking skills.

The first event of the Foodtacular was the 4-H Café. Kids were given a list of foods they could prepare before the event for judging that day.

Categories included quick breads, yeast breads, cakes, decorated cakes, candies, cookies, pies, nutritional snacks, or pack a healthy brown bag lunch.

“I baked my special chocolate chip cookies; they won a first-place ribbon, and I couldn’t be more excited,” said 16-year-old competitor Lydia Harris of the Yukon 4-H Club.

In the Table Setting competition, kids prepared a meal with a theme. They presented the judges with a themed menu and table design.

Kids have to think and plan ahead for projects like these, Graham said.

“In table setting, the kids wrote out a menu where the judges look at it for nutritional value. They also created a table that matches the theme of the menu. The setting included a tablecloth, plates, silverware, napkin, place setting, drinkware, and décor. If they chose a menu with hot dogs, they didn’t want to use fine China for plates. They had to justify from where the items came and why they chose it.”

Mustang High School junior Jorja Titterington learned a lot from the event.

“You really had to think about this, more than you realize,” she said. “If your menu had soup, you better have put a soup bowl and soup spoon on the menu! It was hard to find all the right items for the place setting, like getting everything to match and fit my theme. And then, the meal had to be nutritionally complete. This project was more planning than I initially realized.”

Banner 4-H Club member Kelby Worthington concentrates as she makes sure she gets her spoons and forks in the correct place during the Canadian County 4-H Foodtacular Table Setting competition. For her efforts, she won Grand Champion in beginner’s category. (Photo by Cara Pattison)
Mustang Middle School eighth grader Camryn Thompson of the Yukon 4-H Club shows off her prize-winning cupcakes at the county-wide 4-H Foodtacular event held Saturday at the new fairgrounds in El Reno. (Photo by Cara Pattison)


Perhaps the most competitive event at the Foodtacular was the Cupcake Wars. Contestants had 30 minutes to decorate six plain cupcakes with bags of tinted frosting and candy based on a theme – and have the table completely cleaned before the final bell chimed.

Cupcake aficionado Camryn Thompson is an old pro at this confectionary. She started competing with her cupcakes at age nine, and this year was a bright point in her culinary career. The 14-year-old Mustang Middle School eighth grader won Grand Champion cupcaker this year for her creative cupcake theme.

“I love the Oklahoma State Fair, so I went with a Midway food theme. My winning combination of cupcakes included dill pickle, cherry limeade, and root beer float themed cupcakes. The dill pickle cupcakes were surprisingly good! Everyone wanted to try it.

“I like that we can share our creativity and be leaders to younger 4-Hers through events like this. I’ll be honest and say that competitions like these are my creative outlet.”

The final event of the day was Food Sculpting. An event that requires a great deal of patience and knife wielding, five Yukon girls competed for top honors.

Two teams sliced and diced their way to the top of the food chain. The Hasbro Girls from the Yukon 4-H Club created a first-class winner. Their Mr. Potato Head replica was made of a watermelon body, potato eyes, red grapes for curly hair and eyebrows, and apples for ears. Meanwhile, Advanced Class winners Lydia Harris and Alexis Haynes chopped and chisled their way to the top with an olive-eyed cabbage puppy.

4-H Teen Leader Jake Vulgamore, 14, of the Banner Tuff Riders 4-H Club said the Food Sculpting was his favorite competition.

“The Food Sculpting took a great deal of expertise to compete. I enjoyed watching people I know working on fun projects. I volunteered to help at this event, and it was hard to not watch my friends ‘cut up as they cut up veggies’ and have fun.”

Vulgamore and Piedmont 4-H Teen Leader Dagny Pritchett did their part to make the event a success by snapping photos for social media, announcing awards, and taking contestants to the correct tables.

Mustang 4-H Club member Jorja Titterington puts the finishing touches on her table place setting at the event. (Photo by Cara Pattison)
Canadian County 4-H Teen Leaders, from left, Jake Vulgamore of the Banner Tuff Riders 4-H Club, and Dagny Pritchett of the Piedmont 4-H Club, volunteered for the Foodtacular this Saturday by announcing awards, directing contestants to the right group, and taking photos for social media sites. (Photo by Cara Pattison)


Those placing in the Foodtacular event included:

Table Setting: Beginner-Kelby Worthington (first place), Brheay Copeland (second place), and Leah Harris (third place); Intermediate-Kylee Detrick (first place) and Camryn Thompson (second place); Adanced-Alexis Haynes (first place), Malachi Haynes (second place), and Lydia Harris (third place).

Cupcake Wars: Beginner-Sadie Laverty (first place), Leah Harris (second place), Brheay Wilk (third place); Intermediate-Brantlie Charmasson (first place), Camryn Thompson (second place), and Kylee Detrick (third place); Advanced-Lydia Harris (first place), Jorja Titterington (second place), and Malachi Haynes (third place).

Food Sculpting: Beginner-Leah Harris, Lexie Harris, and Sadie Laverty (first place); Advanced-Lydia Harris and Alexis Haynes (first place).

Maple 4-H Club member Brantlie Charmasson shows off her finished cupcakes – a series of three farm animals that looked they were fashioned by a professional baker. (Photo by Cara Pattison)