At Carroll County Fair, cake fetches $20,000 at auction
Teen baker ‘really in shock’ over champion entry, sale
Michalina Miller, 15, had never entered baked goods in the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair until this year.
A member of the Green Outdoor and Environmental Sciences 4-H Club of Westminster, Michalina decided to bake a family favorite, the Southern Coconut Cake, and submit it for judging. On Wednesday, fair judges named it the grand champion, and by that night, it had sold for a record-breaking $20,000 at the annual cake auction.
“I’m really in shock,” Michalina said Thursday. “I can’t believe it. It went by so fast. I just can’t believe it.”
For her efforts, Michalina received a blue ribbon and two special rosettes. She will also get some cash premiums for her cake, totaling about $30.
Amy Petkovsek, superintendent of the cake auction, said the $20,000 sale price for the Southern Coconut Cake was a Carroll County Fair record.
Each year the auction raises between $50,000 and $130,000, which goes to support the Carroll County 4-H program. The money also allows fair admission to remain free to visitors. It is the only fair in Maryland that does not charge an entrance fee, she said.
Last year, the cake auction raised $111,000.
On Wednesday, a total of 179 baked goods were sold at the auction, bringing in $130,000, Petkovsek said.
Kenny Staley, of Staley’s Body Shop in Westminster, said Thursday morning that his crew had already sliced into Michalina’s Southern Coconut Cake.
“The cake is very, very good,” he said. “It’s amazing the quality of the cake. These kids are very, very talented.”
Staley was one of a group of several local business owners who combined to make the record-breaking bid. The group calls itself the Good ’Ole Carroll County Farm & Business Supporters, and regularly participates in the cake auction to help the fair.
“It’s to bring in as much money to the fair as we can, so the fair stays free and you only pay for parking,” Staley said. “Every year, the Grand Champion cake brings in the most money. It’s the top of the line. It’s all about supporting the fair.”
Michalina’s two-layer winning cake included cake flour, cream cheese, sugar, unsalted butter, coconut extract, egg whites, coconut milk, cream of tartar and milk. The filling consisted of cream cheese, milk and buttercream frosting. The frosting included cream cheese, unsweetened coconut milk, coconut flavoring, powered sugar, unsweetened butter, milk and toasted coconut shreds.
“It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard,” she said of baking the cake. “My dad really likes it.”
The Carroll County 4-H Youth Development Program is a branch of the University of Maryland Extension, a non-formal education program that’s part of the school’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Youths ages 5 to 18 join 4-H clubs focused on livestock raising or other interests, such as robotics, archery or the environment. Members work on yearlong projects and the fair is the capstone event for the clubs.
Club members registered with the Carroll County 4-H program can enter a variety of baked items in the fair each year, including decorated cakes, cookies, pies, quick breads and yeast breads. These items are judged and blue-ribbon winners may be entered in the auction for purchase. The Cake Auction Committee has final discretion for determining which items will be included in the auction. Other baked goods that don’t make it into the auction are sold at a bake sale.
Youths whose baked goods make it into the auction receive a $20 premium. Those whose items are sold in the bake sale get $5.
4-H members also can enter a variety of crafts, canned goods, produce, photography, clothing, woodworking and writing, among other items, and earn premiums for their efforts. Youths also show animals they raise or lease from local farms.
Michalina, whose G.O.E.S. 4-H Club focuses on environmental projects, has entered crafts and flowers at the fair. This year she will show her chickens and her dog, Tippa, a border collie/heeler mix, as part of the fair.
The daughter of Cindy and Cary Miller, of Westminster, Michalina attends Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania.