Vola Osborn, who looks forward to seeing Betsy come "bubbling in" each fair, supervises the entries for the 160 classes of food preservation, which is one of the 11 Home Arts Department divisions, including quilting, weaving and spinning, baking and photography, which all have similar breakdowns. 

Sally Over, who's in charge of flower submissions, said, "Betsy's so cheerful every year it's like a family get-together when we see each other. Everybody's happy and it's fun hearing about what people have been doing."

Multiply and add the numbers from the farm and garden, livestock, horse and 4-H competitions and it explains why 18,000 ribbons are awarded each year.

Hundreds of ribbons is not that unusual for a yearly participant, according to Bill Langlotz, who supervises the farm and garden entries. " It's pretty normal," he said. 

"Then there are some participants who strive for a thousand ribbons and say they are going to retire … and they don't always retire," Langlotz said.

For those who participate in the competitions "it can be a really enjoyable year-round hobby," said Over.

In fact, some of Lentz's entries aren't even planned.

A month after she took a picture of the Delaware Bay, she was stunned to see how lovely a photograph it was and decided to enter it, she said. Its bright blue waters and golden cattails won a blue ribbon as well as a fair champion award.

She also goaded Donald into submitting one of his photographs. It won a first prize.

Lentz's blue ribbon apple pie might have been a win for her in 2008 but it was a loss for Donald. Like her other entries it had to remain at the fair for its entire run and he never got a taste of it.

The following year, he asked her to bake two.

The Maryland State Fair runs Aug. 23-Sept. 2. For more information, go to http://www.marylandstatefair.com.