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Nothing brings joy more than a bouncing baby full of smiles, giggles, and pure joy. Come get your fill at the Porter County Fair Cutest Baby Contest.

According to Ashlee Duttlinger, superintendent of the contest, former Porter County 4-H’er and mother to 4- and 6-year-old boys, the infants and toddlers will take the stage at the Park Place Pavilion July 21. “This is my fifth year running it, and we’re all so excited,” she said.

Duttlinger said the event is divided between a preliminary selection and the finals. “We prefer to hold the Cutest Baby Contest during the Queen Pageant, as it draws a very large, diverse crowd, but over the years, it got so big that we decided to hold a preliminary competition in the morning to pare down the numbers for the main event.”

The preliminary contest will begin at 8 a.m. July 21, with finalists chosen in each of several age groups: 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, 12-18 months, and 18-24 months. Parents of finalists are asked to bring them back that evening for the main competition during the Queen Pageant, which begins at 5:30 p.m.

Winners from each age group will receive a monetary prize, and two overall winners (one boy and one girl) will be announced. “The two overall Grand Champion winners could end up being a girl from one age group and a boy from another,” said Duttlinger. “You just never know.”

While babies should come dressed up, it is not a costume contest or pageant. “Children should wear something cool and comfortable for the best results,” Duttlinger cautioned. “We want their personalities to shine through.”

Babies will be brought on stage and their names, as well as their parents’ names, will be announced. Two to three judges, such as a local elementary school teacher or pediatric dentist, will select the winners in each category as well as the overall champions. “Judges are not only members of the community, but are people who love and appreciate children,” said Duttlinger.

Last year’s strong response to the contest resulted in leftover entry fee money, which was donated to The Caring Place in Valparaiso, a social and welfare service that helps provide basic necessities such as food and clothing for needy men, women and children. “We will do that again this year,” Duttlinger confirmed. “It’s a win-win-win situation: with prize money for the winners of the competition, bragging rights for their parents, and a donation to a very good cause.”

Overall, the Cutest Baby Contest is just for fun. “Bring your cute baby and have fun at the Porter County Fair,” Duttlinger said.

For more details and entry rules, visit portercountyfair.com.

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