Preparing Vegetables for the Fair

Vegetable List




Beans


Beets


Broccoli


Brussels Sprouts


Cabbage


Carrot

Cauliflower


Celery


Cucumber


Eggplant


Garlic


Herbs

Kale


Kohlarbi


Lettuce


Melon


Onion


Parsnips

Peas


Pepper


Potatoes


Pumpkin


Radish


Rhubarb

Spinach


Squash


Sweet Corn


Tomatoes


Turnips


Watermelon

Beans


Beans


What to look for


  •  Uniform in color and size 
  •  Straight   
  •  Small seeds   
  •  True to varietyGreen Beans

What you don’t want


  • Cracked pods
  • Insect/disease injury
  • Overgrown/large seeds

How to prepare the beans


Leave ¼- ½ inch of stem on pod

Brush lightly with a dry cloth to remove any dirt


Suggested exhibit quantity


State Fair: 6 pods

County Fair: check your fair book


Photo downloaded under a creative commons license.


ISU Publications


Container Gardening
Growing Blueberries in Iowa
Harvesting and Preparing Vegetables for Exhibit
Harvesting and Storing Vegetables
Planting a Home Vegetable Garden
Small Plot Vegetable Garden
Where to Put Your Vegetable Garden


Common Problems


Slugs will eat beans that come in contact with the ground


Fungus can appear if plants are too wet and too close together


Recipes


Salad in a Bag



Beets


Beets


What to look for


  • Smooth and firm
  • Uniform in color
  • 1 ½ -3 inches in diameterBeets

What you don’t want


  • Misshapen
  • Rough or broken skin
  • Oversized
  • Insect/disease damage

How to prepare the beets


  • Trim tops to 1 ½ -2 inches
  • Leave up to 2 inches of tap root
  • To remove soil either brush or soak and gently wash in cold water

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 3 specimens
  • County Fair: check your fair book

Watch the video and learn what a judge looks for when judging beets.



ISU Publications


 


Potential problems


Small/misshapen root if soil is compacted

Holes in root from rodents or wireworms/beet worms

Leaf spot

Aphids


Recipes


Canned Pickled Beets


Sauteed Beet Greens


Beet Soup



Broccoli


Broccoli


What to look for


  • Firm heads
  • Uniform color
  • Tight bud stage
  • Tender and crispBroccoli

What you don’t want


  • Wilted
  • Flowers open or yellow
  • Leaves in head
  • Insect/disease damage

How to prepare broccoli


  • Remove all leaves below head
  • Rinse with cold water
  • Minimum diameter of head or sprouts: 3 inches
  • Minimum length of stalk and head: 5 inches

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check county fair book

ISU Resources


 


Common Problems


Many worms/insects feed on leaves of broccoli

Mildew

Leaf Spot


Recipes


Cheesy Broccoli Soup


Easy Quiche



Brussels Sprouts


Brussels Sprouts


What to look for


  • Head feels solid and firm
  • Heavy for sizeBrussels Sprouts

What you don’t want


  • Loose and light weight
  • Insect/disease damage
  • Peeled too much

How to prepare brussel sprouts


  • Remove from stem
  • Peel outer leaves, but leave 2-3 outer leaves in place

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Resources


 


Common Problems


Cabbage worm

Aphids

Leaf Spot


Recipes


Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Brussels Sprouts Hash


Easy Baked or Boiled Sprouts



Cabbage


Cabbage


What to look for


  • Solid and firm heads
  • Heavy for sizeCabbage

What you don’t want


  • Loose/not firm
  • Feels light weight
  • Wilted or split
  • Insect or disease damage

How to prepare cabbage


  • Peel leaves so 2-3 outer leaves are left intact
  • Cut stem so there is no more than ½ inch

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: one head
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

Watch the video and learn what a judge is looking for when you bring a cabbage to the fair. It also discusses how to prepare the cabbage for exhibit.



ISU Resources


 


Common Problems


Mildew

Leaf spot

Various worms and caterpillars


Recipes


Crunchy Cabbage Salad



Carrot


Carrot


What to look for


  • Smooth and straight
  • Uniform in size and color
  • True to varietyCarrot

What you don’t want


  • Too large or small
  • Purple or green shoulders
  • Crooked or cracked roots
  • Insect or disease damage

How to prepare carrots


  • Trim the tops to 1 to 1 ½ inches
  • Brush or wash in cold water to remove dirt
  • Do Not scrub because the skin could break

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 3 specimens
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

Watch what a judge looks for when judging carrots



ISU Publications


 


Common Problems


Forked or crooked roots from soils that are too rocky or compacted

Soft rot

White mold on root or leaves

Carrot fly


Recipes


Garden Pork Saute


Summer Bounty Salad



Cauliflower


Cauliflower


What to look for


  • Solid and good color (varies with cultivar)
  • Fresh and uniform “jacket” leavesCauliflower

What you don’t want


  • Poor color and wilted
  • Excessively rough
  • Insect and disease damage

How to prepare the cauliflower


  • Removes some older leaves
  • Trim “jacket” leaves even with top of head
  • Cut stem to ¼ to ½ inch below bottom leaves

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common Problems


Various worms and moths

Nitrogen deficiency or toxicity

Fungus on leaves


Recipes


Chicken Club Salad



Celery


Celery


What you want


  • Stalks that are firm, thick, and uniform
  • Uniform colorCelery

What you don’t want


  • Wilted
  • Small stalks
  • Blemished or split stalks
  • Poor color
  • Mechanical, insect, or disease damage

How to prepare celery


  • Remove roots
  • Uniformly trim leaves
  • Wash in cold water
  • Refrigerate until exhibit

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common Problems


Snails/slugs

Leaf spot

Blight


Recipes


Chicken Broth & Cooked Chicken



Cucumber


Cucumber


What to look for


  • Straight and firm
  • Good dark green colorCucumber

What you don’t want


  • Crooked or oversized
  • Yellowish color and overmature
  • Insect or mechanical damage

How to prepare the cucumbers


  • Leave ½ inch of stem
  • Wipe with a soft cloth to remove dirt

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Pickling (6), Dill (3), Slicing (3)
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common problems


Scab

Cucumber beetle

Mildew

Leaf spot

Rot and blight


Recipes


Pasta Salad


Wraps "Your Way"



Eggplant


Eggplant


What to look for:


  • Firm, shiny and uniform color
  • Medium to large size
  • Small blossom scar
  • Fresh green calyx  (leaf-like cover of the flower)Eggplant

What you don’t want:


  • Too small or immature
  • Off or dull color
  • Dry calyx

How to prepare the eggplant:


  • Leave 1 inch or stem
  • If necessary, wipe with a soft cloth

Suggested exhibit quantity:


  • State Fair: one specimen
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common problems


Wilt and blight

Blossom end rot

Various insects


Recipes


Healthy Eggplant Recipes



Garlic


Garlic


What to look for


  • Clean and smooth bulbs
  • Dry NecksGarlic

What you don’t want


  • Off-colored and rough bulbs
  • Immature
  • Broken or missing sheaths or cloves
  • Cut too close

How to prepare the garlic


  • Leave 1 inch of stem
  • Trim roots to ¼ inch
  • Brush off soil
  • Do Not wash or remove sheath

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


*Garlic


Common problems


White rot and bottom rot


Fungus and mold


Recipes


Garlic Recipes


Buying, Storing & Preparing Garlic



Herbs


Herbs


What to look for


  • Fresh and clean
  • Proper harvest stageHerbs

What you don’t want


  • Dirty or wilted
  • Flowering
  • Improper labeling

How to prepare herbs


  • Rinse in cold water (if necessary)
  • Do not have leaves below water line

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 3 sprigs per bottle, Dill- two heads tied below the heads and near the end
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


Fresh Picks- Herbs


Growing and Using Basil


Common problems


(varies with different herbs)


Insect (ex. Aphids)


Disease (ex. Mildew)


Slugs


Recipes


Cooking with Herbs


Culinary Herb Guide


Fresh Picks- Herbs



Kale


Kale


What to look for


  • Fresh, dark green leaves
  • Bright, clean stemsKale

What you don’t want


  • Dirty, wilted, or poor colored leaves
  • Insect damage
  • Seed stalk

How to prepare kale


  • Remove discolored outer leaves
  • Place roots in a jar of water

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common Problems


Usually insect and disease free


Recipes


Sauteed Kale


Roasted Yam and Kale Salad



Kohlrabi


Kohlrabi


What to look for


  • Good color
  • 1 ½ to 3 inches in diameterKohlrabi

What you don’t want


  • Too large or misshapen
  • Insect, disease, or weather damage

How to prepare kohlrabi


  • Cut leaves to 1-2 inches
  • Trim roots to 1-2 inches

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 3 specimens
  • County Fair: check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common problems


Cabbage looper

Armyworms

Fungus or mildew

Insects


Recipes


Roasted Kohlrabi


Various Kohlrabi Recipes


Kohlrabi Tips and Recipes



Lettuce


Lettuce


What to look for


  • Fresh, crisp leaves
  •  Well-coloredLettuce

What you don’t want


  • Wilted, damaged, or dirty leaves

How to prepare lettuce


  • Remove older outer leaves
  • Place roots in a jar of water

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common problems


Snails/slugs

Caterpillars

Mildew and fungus


Recipes


Salad in a Bag


Wraps "Your Way"


Pita Pockets



Melon


Melon


What to look for


  • Medium sized and fragrant
  • When stem separates easily from fruit.Melon

What you don’t want


  • Poor coloring
  • Over- or under-ripe
  • Decay spots
  • Pest or mechanical damage

How to prepare melon


  • Clean with a soft-bristled brush
  • Do Not wash

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: one specimen
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


Melons


Common problems


Mold, mildew, and rot


Anthracnose


Insects


Leaf spot


Recipes


Fruit Slush


Fresh Fruit Cocktail


Lime Ginger Honeydew



Onion


Onion


Dry Onions


What to look for


  • Heavy for size and firm
  • 2 inches or more in diameter 
  • Uniform color and shape
  • True to variety
  • Small, well dried neck

What you don’t want


  • Peeled or immature bulb
  • Misshapen, double, or split bulb
  • Large soft neck 
  • Poor color or size
  • Small, well dried neck

How to prepare


  • Harvest approx. 2 weeks before exhibiting to cure
  • Do not remove outer scales or wash
  • Trim tops to 1 inch and roots to ¼ inch

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 3 specimens 
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

Green Onions


What to look for


  • ½ to ¾ inch in diameter
  • Straight white stem w/ green leaves

What you don’t want


  • Too small or too large
  • Poor color or peeled
  • Dry or discolored leaves
  • Crooked

How to prepare


  • Remove loose skin
  • Cut tops 4-5 in above white shank
  • Trim roots to ½ inch

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

Watch the video and learn what a judge looks for when judging onions.



ISU Resources


Onions


Common problems


Onion maggot


Wireworm or cutworm


Soft rot or white rot


Recipes


Loaded Potato Soup



Parsnips


Parsnips


What you want


  • Medium to large size (less than 2 inches in diameter and 7 inches long)
  • Clean, smooth, and firm
  • Uniform tapered rootParsnip

What you don’t want


  • Too small or poor color
  • Misshapen or crooked roots
  • Green shoulders or blemished

How to prepare parsnips


  • Trim tops to 1 inch
  • Trim off side roots
  • Do not trim off lower portions of tap root
  • Soak and wash in cool water

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Resources


 


Common problems


Poor germination

Wireworm

Rot or leaf spot


Recipes


Mashed Potato & Parsnip


Spiced Parsnip Soup


Easy Roasted Parsnips



Peas


Peas


Peas with edible pods


What to look for


  • Bright green color
  • Seeds not to large  
  • Seeds in eating stage

What you don’t want


  • Damaged pods 
  • Seeds that are too mature 
  • Poor color  

How to prepare peas


  • Pick with stem
  • Brush with soft cloth or brush to remove any soil

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: check fair book 

Garden Peas


What to look for


  • Bright green
  • Well-filled pods

What you don't want


  • Poorly filled pods
  • Blemishes or dry  
  • Poor color

How to prepare peas


  • Pick with stem
  • Rinse with cool water to clean

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: check fair book

Watch what a judge looks for when judging peas



ISU Publications


 


Common problems


Root Rot

Powdery Mildew


Recipes


Ham & Brown Rice


Whole Meal Salad


Loaded Potato Soup



Pepper


Pepper


What to look for


  • Large, firm, and heavy
  • Uniform in color and size

What you don’t want


  • Misshapen or too small
  • Lightweight or wilted
  • Dirty or damaged

How to prepare peppers


  • Leave ½ to 1 inch of stem

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 3 specimens
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

Watch what a judge looks for when judging peppers and how to select which ones to bring to the fair



ISU Publications


Peppers


Common problems


Aphids or spider mites


Leaf spot


Sunscald (tan spots on pepper)


Recipes


Sausage & Pepper Frittata


Spanish Macaroni


Stuffed Bell Pepper



Potatoes


Potatoes


What to look for


  • Firm
  • Uniform size and color
  • Medium size around 6-10 ounces

What you don’t want


  • Deep eyes or growth cracks
  • Green color
  • Knobby
  • Mechanical or insect injury

How to prepare potatoes


  • Do Not wash
  • Dig from dry soil
  • Use soft cloth/brush to remove soil

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 3 specimens 
  • County Fair: check your fair book

Sweet Potatoes


What to look for


  • Smooth
  • Brightly colored
  • 2 to 4 inches in diameter

What you don't want


  • Rough, bruised, or off color
  • Poor shape
  • Insect or mechanical injury

How to prepare


  • Dig 7-10 days before exhibit
  • Do Not wash
  • Use soft cloth/brush to remove soil

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 3 specimens
  • County Fair: check your fair book

Watch the video and learn what a judge looks for when judging potatoes



ISU Publications


Potatoes


Common problems


Potatoes


  • Blight
  • Beetles or aphids
  • Wire worms      
  • Potato scab

Sweet Potatoes


  • Over watering
  • Scurf (black splotches on skin)

Recipes


Best Baked Potatoes


Healthy Hash Browns


Loaded Potato Soup


Baked Sweet Potato



Pumpkin


Pumpkin


What to look for


  • Heavy for size with hard rind
  • True to type (size, shape, and color)
  • CleanPumpkin

What you don’t want


  • Light weight for size
  • No stem
  • Not typical for variety
  • Damaged/scarred

How to prepare the pumpkin


  • Leave 2 inches of stem
  • Clean with a soft cloth

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 1 specimen, miniature: 3 specimens
  • County Fair: check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common problems


White mold

Anthracnose (circular sunken spots)

Spotted cucumber beetle

Squash vine borer and Squash bug


Recipes


Homemade Pumpkin Pie


Pumpkin Bread or Muffins


Roasted Pumpkin Recipes



Radishes


Radishes


What to look for


  • Fresh with uniform color
  • Smooth
  • Roots 1-1½ inches in diameterRadish

What you don’t want


  • Wilted or soft
  • Rough or blemished
  • Oversized or split

How to prepare the radishes


  • Wash in cool water
  • Remove leaves that are discolored/injured

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book  
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common problems


Cracking/splitting

Going to seed (no bulb formation)


Recipes


Summer Bounty Salad


Veggie Pizza


Grilled Radishes



Rhubarb


Rhubarb


What to look for


  • Young, fresh stalks
  • Uniform color and smoothRhubarb

What you don’t want


  • Poorly colored
  • Overmature
  • Blemished

How to prepare rhubarb


  • Pull stalks, Do Not cut
  • Trim leaves to 1 inch
  • Tie bunch at both ends

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


Rhubarb in the Home Garden


Common problems


Relatively pest and disease free


Recipes


Collection of Rhubarb Recipes


Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie


Rhubarb Sauce



Spinach


Spinach


What to look for


  • Clean, fresh leaves
  • Uniform colorSpinach

What you don’t want


  • Wilted or poor color
  • Blemished or insect-damaged leaves

How to prepare spinach


  • Pull entire plant
  • Trim roots to crown
  • Remove any damaged leaves
  • Wash is cold water
  • Place in a jar of water to prevent wilting

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common Problems


Fungus

Rabbits

Aphids


Recipes


Skillet Lasagna


Whole Meal Salad


Garlic Sauteed Spinach



Squash


Squash


Summer Squash


What you want


  • Soft rind
  • Long-fruited: 4-8 in
  • Flat or scalloped: 3-5 in

What you don't want


  • Large/overmature
  • Scarred skin
  • Removed stem
  • Soft or wilted fruit

How to prepare


  • Leave 1-2 in of stem (cut with a sharp knife)
  • Use soft brush to clean
  • Do Not wash

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 3 specimens
  • County Fair: check your fair book

Winter Squash


What you want


  • Hard rind with developed color
  • True to variety in size, shape, color

What you don't want


  • Immature fruit or light color
  • Stem removed or green & soft
  • Damage from insects

How to prepare


  • Leave 2 in of stem (cut with a sharp knife)
  • Wipe clean with a cloth

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: 1 specimen
  • County Fair: check your fair book

Watch what a judge looks for when judging zucchini



ISU Publications


 


Common Problems


Summer


  • Blossom end rot
  • Mildew
  • Insects/bugs

Winter


  • Fungal disease
  • Mildew
  • Insects/bugs

Recipes


Baked Acorn Squash


Squash Recipes



Sweet Corn


Sweet Corn


What to look for


  • Good color and kernels well filled
  • Fresh, bright green husks
  • Even rowsSweet Corn

What you don’t want


  • Immature or over mature
  • Uneven or crooked rows
  • Cob not filled to the tip
  • Insect damage
  • Dried husks

How to prepare the corn


  • Remove husk from one side of the ear
  • Trim silk to 1 inch of tip
  • Trim stem to bottom of the ear

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Three ears
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

Watch the video and learn what a judge looks for when judging corn



ISU Publications


*Sweet Corn


Common Problems


Insects


Fungus (corn smut)


Birds


Rust and root rot


Recipes


Corn on the Cob (Microwave)


Mexican Chicken Soup



Tomatoes


Tomatoes


What to look for


  • Uniform in size and color
  • Ripe, firm, smooth fruit
  • Feels heavy for its sizeTomatoes

What to avoid


  • Green or cracked shoulders
  • Insect/disease injury
  • Misshapen
  • Stems attached

How to prepare


  • Pick mature fruit
  • Remove the stems
  • Clean with a soft cloth

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Standard size: 3 specimens, Cherry, cocktail: 6 specimens
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

Watch the video and learn what a judge looks for when judging tomatoes.



ISU Publications


Tomatoes


Canning and Freezing Tomatoes


Common Problems


Leaf spot


Blight (both foliage and fruit)


Catfacing


Growth cracks


Blossom end rot


Bacterial speck and spot


Tomato Horn Worm


Recipes


Balsamic Bruschetta


BLT Wrap


Uses for Tomatoes



Turnip


Turnip


What to look for


  • Roots 2-3 inches in diameter
  • Uniform color
  • Smooth skin with firm fleshTurnip

What you don’t want


  • Poor color, soft, or spongy
  • Insect, disease, or mechanical injury
  • Too large
  • Rough skin

How to prepare turnips


  • Trim tops to 1-2 inches
  • Leave at least 2 inches of root
  • Wash in cold water, but do not scrub

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: Refer to premium book
  • County Fair: Check your fair book

ISU Publications


 


Common problems


Powdery mildew

Club root


Recipes


Mashed Turnips


Turnip & Potato Patties



Watermelon


Watermelon


What to look for


  • Shape/color typical to variety
  • Medium to large size
  • Dull gloss
  • Ground spot has yellowish colorWatermelon

What you don’t want


  • Immature or over-ripe
  • Poor color
  • Misshapen
  • Blemished

How to prepare watermelon


  • Leave 1-2 inches of stem
  • Wipe with a moist cloth

Suggested exhibit quantity


  • State Fair: one specimen
  • County Fair: check your fair book

ISU Publications


Melons


Common problems


Wilt


Leaf spot


Cucumber beetles


Squash bugs


Recipes


Watermelon Cooler


Fresh Fruit Cocktail


Fruit Slush