The California State Fair celebrates the best the Golden State has to offer through annual competitions for beer, wine, cheese, baking, canning and livestock.
This year, the 161-year-old fair added a new competition to celebrate its agricultural diversity – the California State Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition with $115,000 provided by the US Department of Agriculture under its Specialty Crop Grant Program.
According to the USDA, the purpose of the Specialty Crop Grant Program is to “enhance the competitiveness of the specialty crops”. The California Department of Food and Agriculture received a total of $19,881,478 in grants under this program to cover a host of agricultural products produced in the state of California.
Some of the funding allotted to strengthen the California olive industry will go towards educating producers on aspects of olive production and processing as well as to promote sale of olive oil produced in California.
The $115,000 funding received by California State Fair will be used to organize its first EVOO competition to promote California olive oil and educate the public on olive oil industry standards, labeling and identifying quality.
The Los Angeles County Fair also hosts an annual competition and it was unclear what impact, if any, the new competition would have on the popularity of the L.A. competition among the California producers who represent a large share of its entries.
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The Fair is inviting olive oil producers to submit entries to the Cal Expo by April 1, 2015.
Requirements for entry into the competition are straightforward: Only commercially available EVOOs produced from olives grown, pressed and packed in California are eligible for the competition.
Producers of olive oil can enter by paying an $80 fee and submitting four bottles of their EVOO produced in the current harvest season. Producers identify the classes of their entries based on the prominent cultivar. Extra virgin olive oils entered in the single or blend divisions may come under delicate, medium or robust categories. Citrus, herbs, chili or other flavored EVOOs can also be entered in the competition.
Judging of the olive oils will take place on May 7, 2015 after the oils have undergone lab testing and preliminary screening. Blind judging of the oils will be conducted by judges who only have access to the identification code, division and class of the EVOO samples, according to the organizers.
Producers have a chance to win a gold, silver or bronze medal in addition to the best of class, best of division and best of show awards. Winners of the competition will be announced at the fair in July.