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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
James Wilkinson kisses a goat at the Salt Lake County Fair Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in South Jordan.
I'd never heard about dutch oven cook-offs. It first started here at the fair… We got the competition bug and started doing competitions everywhere. —Brian Blodgett

SOUTH JORDAN — In 2010, Brian Blodgett and his wife, Lisa, won the Dutch Oven World Championship Cook-Off, but Saturday night they were at the Salt Lake County Fair where their competitive years began.

The Blodgetts were organizers, not competitors, this year, but Brian Blodgett said there is something special about the event where they got their start in 2002.

"I'd never heard about dutch oven cook-offs," he said. "It first started here at the fair… We got the competition bug and started doing competitions everywhere."

The World Championship was also at stake Saturday, as the winners were given a spot at this year's championship competition in addition to their prizes. Bill and Toni Thayn, of Price, took the top spot.

Though it was their second year at the fair — they won last year, too — it's just one of many competitions the couple has taken on in a decade of cook-offs. Toni Thayn said they compete about once a month and that, while some people question it, she couldn't imagine cooking alongside anyone but her husband of 23 years.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," she said.

She said the fair is a favorite competition for the amount of people it draws. She said it's a way to compete, share recipes and build friendships.

"We've become friends with people we might have never met if we hadn't come here," she said.

Tonya Lowe and her son, Jordan, came from Price to compete. She took fourth in the expert division and he took second in the youth category.

They love the food, but Tonya said it's the people that are another draw. When they realized they forgot ketchup Saturday, someone wrangled some for them.

"It's really nice here," she said. "The people are really helpful."

"Everyone helps everyone," Jordan added.

The cook-off was just one of the fair's many offerings, as it featured all the expected trappings over the course of its four days: animals, carnival rides, food, entertainment, various booths and ribbons. Entertainers took the stage Wednesday and Thursday and a Demolition Derby, including one that featured a stand-off between Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, was the main entertainment Friday and Saturday nights.

Friends and neighbors Carla Kappes and Kate Mauch of West Jordan had never before attended the Salt Lake County Fair and decided to go Saturday, because "it's just down the street," Mauch said. The pair was taking in a quilt hanging next to a display of prize-winning preserved and pickled goods.

"I'm probably always drawn to quilts and handmade things," Mauch said. "Though I do like to look at the rabbits. They're so cute."

Kappes, too, liked the offerings in the "home arts" categories. "I like to see the homemade things and the creativity in the displays," she said.

All in all, the fair fit the bill.

"There are certain things you expect," Mauch said. "Your hot dog on a stick, lemonade. It's nice to come and have those things."

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