WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | Jane Maxwell had a $2,500 piece of cake for dessert Saturday evening.
That’s how much she and a group of generous friends paid for the grand champion German chocolate sauerkraut cake at the Taste of 4-H Food Auction at the Porter County Fair Saturday afternoon.
4-H veteran Kelsey Brewer, 17, baked the cake, which took top honors at Friday’s 4-H competition and top dollar at the auction.
“It was pretty overwhelming,” said Brewer, after the auction. “I’m pretty happy with it.”
Among the more than 50 food items auctioned were reserve champion Carter Stoner’s Grandma Jim’s Honey Cookie, reserve champion Rain Walker’s Awesome Blueberry Rhubarb Muffins, and reserve champion Corbin Nordyke’s Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks.
Noah Case’s reserve champion raspberry pineapple tea ring fetched $200 at auction.
“I’ve been baking since I was little with my mom,” said Case, 14. “I like food a lot – especially tasting different flavors and textures.”
Some of the champions bake their prize-winning creation a second time, just for the auction.
Katherine Graff’s champion pear pie was still warm as she paraded it through the rows of bidders seated in the Buggy Wheel Pavilion. The two pies – the champion and the fresh-baked – netted $275.
“You just have to make sure there’s enough sugar,” said Graff, revealing her baking secret.
Food auction committee member Lela Hewlett is compiling a cookbook of grand champion recipes in honor of the auction’s 25th anniversary this year.
“I got to taste some of the entries yesterday,” said Hewlett. “Some of them were out of this world.”
At the auction’s finale, Maxwell persuaded friends Chris Birky, Dave Good, and Mark Baird to pool their dollars to ensure the bidding for Brewer’s prize creation topped out at $2,500.
“Since it’s the 25th anniversary of the food auction, I thought it was nice,” said Maxwell, of the high bid. “And I’m not getting any younger.”
In 1989, Maxwell originated the idea for the auction – the proceeds of which supply the John E. Keller Memorial Scholarship Fund for college-bound 4-H high school students.
“After judging, all that food went to waste,” said Maxwell, of Valparaiso. “The kids never picked it up and it was thrown away.”
The idea has generated more than $200,000 in scholarships since the auction’s inception.
“It’s a lesson in philanthropy,” said Maxwell.