A former champion will return to the Hy-Vee Cake Decorator Challenge finals for the second straight year after emerging Thursday at the top of a West Des Moines regional competition field that featured nine first-year competitors and a couple former champions.
“I finished two minutes before the deadline,” Sandra Fridley, who works at Des Moines No. 2, said. “I was very much surprised I won, but that is always the best way.”
Fridley’s Country Western-themed design earned $500. She finished ahead of runner-up Angie Van Wyk of Pella and her Girly Girl creations. Third place went to Natalie Patterson, Des Moines No. 4, who chose a Panda theme. The alternate was a former champion from Ames No. 2, Sarah Vanderheyden and her Ladybug Tea Party creations.
Fridley said she was inspired by her 15-year-old son, Seth, who talked her into a cowboy-themed cake. The three-tier cake was decorated to look like blue jeans and a red bandanna and was topped with a banjo. Seth, who helped his mother prepare for the competition, built her an electronic mechanism to spin the mini mechanical bull Fridley made for her sheet cake.
“All of the Hy-Vee decorators are always so amazing, I just come here because it is such a great time,” said Patterson, who got her panda idea from her daughter. “I did not expect this.” She will participate in the championship round for the first time thanks to her third-place finish.
Jen Klingenberg, a new cake designer at the Spencer Hy-Vee, joined the spectators to check out the competition and was impressed by the action at Jordan Creek Town Center.
“I am amazed by the creativity” of the 26 designers, she said. “You don’t ever see all these types of designs and this many colors.”
The Des Moines finalists will join the top three designers from the other six regionals back at Jordan Creek Town Center on March 28 for the championship round. Fridley, Van Wyk and Patterson all plan to repeat the same themes.
A total of 155 Hy-Vee cake designers are entered in the 2012 challenge. They have three hours to decorate one dozen cookies, two sheet cakes, 24 cupcakes and a feature cake, using a theme of their choosing. Popular movies, literature, sports, hobbies, even the company they work for, have all served as inspiration. The defending champion is two-time winner Katie O’Connor of Lincoln. O’Connor will make a fourth attempt at the final round when she squares off against 27 challengers at the Council Bluffs regional event March 8 at Mall of the Bluffs.
The finals winner will receive $1,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association annual meeting in New Orleans. An extra $500 goes to the finalist who wins the Decorators Choice Award.
Joining Fridley, Van Wyk and Patterson in the finals field at Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines so far:
- Melanie DeKeyerel Bell, Peoria, who earned a second straight trip to the finals by winning the regional competition in Davenport.
- Sally Fraise, Sycamore, second in Davenport.
- Juanita Razo, Peru, third in Davenport.
- Kristin Ennis, Cedar Rapids No. 6, who won the Mason City regional.
- Janine Schwendinger of Rochester No. 3, runner-up in Mason City.
- Kassie Mather of Cedar Rapids No. 7, third in Mason City.
- Amber Rahe of Mankato No. 2, last year’s champion, won the Sioux Falls regional.
- MacKenzie Scott of Sioux Falls No. 3, second in Sioux Falls
- Sheree George of Sioux Falls No. 2, in Sioux Falls.
The remaining regional contests are:
- March 6 – Kansas City, MO, regional, Independence Center.
- March 8 – Council Bluffs regional, Mall of the Bluffs.