Sue Ann McAvoy
Winning a blue ribbon for her coveted jams and jellies at the Missouri State Fair had long been a dream for Sue Ann McAvoy of Kirkwood.Now she has a drawer lined with two layers of ribbons she has won since entering her first fair entry in 1999 at the urging of her husband Joe. "She kept saying one of these days," Joe said of his wife's desire to enter the state fair competition. "Finally, I said 'you're gonna do it. ,"This year was banner year for both Sue Ann and even Joe. The fair in Sedalia ended on Aug. 18. Sue Ann entered 50 of her homemade jams and jellies in the Home Economics Preservation category. She walked away with 30 awards, including 12 first place awards for such specialties as her plum preserves, raspberry jam and jelly and salsa. "Some categories, like orange marmalade and salsa, she's taken first place in every year," Joe said. "Anything she does as far as canning, she's really, really good at. "In addition, Sue Ann won first place in the Pillsbury Pie Crust Competition for her pie, Black Jack Cherry Pie.
Joe also took first 'place in the men's division for his slight variation of the
recipe lemon juice instead of
lime juice. "Everybody loved it
the judges loved it, Sue Ann McAvoy brought home ribbons for her jams and
jellies, and also won a first place award for her Black Jack Cherry Pie”
Joe said of the three berry pie
flavored with Jack Daniel's whiskey. Joe,
a sales manager for Amstan Logistics, has picked up his culinary prowess from
his wife. "I knew I was gonna
win first place in the pie contest" Joe said.
"I knew I had a good pie recipe.
I've been watching Sue Ann for many years. Through
watching her I knew how to get it done. "Sue
Ann teasingly pointed out what Joe is supposed to say when he's helping her when
she cans. "Yes dear," Joe
said right on cue.
Sue Ann, a manager of regulatory compliance at Warner Jenkinson Co., has been canning since she was 15. She has a food science degree and is working on her master's degree in food safety via the Internet from Michigan. "My mother grew up on a farm and taught me how to can. She always said do fun stuff," said Sue Ann, who grew up in Chesterfield . They used to do vegetables and things like that. People like fun stuff, like jams and jellies, so I focus on that aspect because it's fun. "Last year I made 24 or 25 dozen jars of various things," Sue Ann said. To enter 50 categories makes for a large variety from fruits to peppers. "I start to get really into it by May," Sue Ann said. "By the first of August, she's usually about done," Joe said. "The closer the canning is done to the fair the better chance there is of winning. Freshness counts; it looks and tastes better. "Joe praised his wife on her canning techniques. "She's adapted a lot of techniques where it's not that hard," Joe said. "I do it in stages," she said. She said when strawberries are in season they pick them, clean them, and put them in labeled freezer bags with the exact quantity and date. "Then I take them out and process them into the jam or jelly," she explained. With their son, 4 year old Jared, Sue Ann noted she has to take advantage of her limited time to pursue her passion.
When possible, they pick their own fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries and raspberries at you pick it farms and it gives active Jared something to do. With the large quantity of canned items, the McAvoys admitted they give most of it away. "We give them as gifts. I give to customers. Sue Ann gives to coworkers," Joe said. In addition, Sue Ann is co-chair of the church bizarre at St. Timothy Episcopal Church in Creve Coeur, which features her jams and jellies. "With our church event, I have a really good outlet for it," she said. Last year, the bizarre, for church member only, raised $2,500. The couple would like others in S Louis County to enter the Missouri State Fair. "I'm the only one who entered the jams and jellies category from S Louis County," Sue Ann said. "We'd love to see more people fro the St Louis area to go over there and participate. It's the state fair," Jo said. "If I can win this ribbon, anybody can. It's fun. The key to entering the state fair is getting the rule book and following the rules. "Jared summed up the fair with his one liner jingle: "Our state fair is the best state fair because my Mommy's a winner and my Daddy is too!