I will do just about anything for a prize. I adore free stuff. An otherwise dormant beast is stirred inside me when I hear that word - prize. Big prize or small . . . it doesn't matter. I want to win it. I should be embarrassed to admit this . . . but I am a notorious baby/wedding shower game "bully" because, to me, it's win or go home. Always. Even when kids (especially my own) are involved. It's shameful . . . but I remain unapologetic. A prize is totally worth whatever you have to do to get it.
So along comes CookieCon registration day with the promise of lots of chances to win PRIZES, and a big fat swag bag chock full of colorful lanyards, cookie cutters, stencils, icing bags coupons, and (be still my beating heart) RAFFLE TICKETS. Hundreds of cookiers (450 to be exact!) from all over the world (yes, WORLD) - many, many, many of whom are first-timers to CookieCon - have converged in one place. CookieCon.
All of us had a single focus during registration - the swag bags and prizes. I heard someone say something about networking and the opportunity of meeting fellow cookiers (blahdie, blah, blah . . . ), but I'm pretty sure everyone was there first and foremost for the swag. (Whether they are as honest about it as me is another story.)
The "official" mingling began with a "cookie card" exchange during which each attendee was given a set of 12 cookie cards with one number. The goal was to exchange cards with 11 other people with different numbers than yours until you had the numbers 1 through 12. Once you achieved this, you were to find a CookieCon representative and show them your cards so you could be entered into a drawing for a prize. Let me just say, I rocked this one out. I hunted those 11 other people with the numbers I didn't have and flat-out refused to give someone one of my cards unless they had something I needed. As an aside, naturally, I was assigned the number one . . . it's the very definition of foreshadowing! The prize drawing won't be announced until the Saturday evening banquet . . . but I did everything I could to win. The rest is up to fate. But again, I was assigned the number one for a reason, of this I am certain.
There was also a photo booth where, if you took your picture with a new friend and showed it to a CookieCon representative, bam! Another prize drawing! Again, I killed it. My new cookie BFF, Kym Wampler of Magnificookies, appears to still want to be my friend; however, we haven't discussed the fact that I get the prize if we win that drawing. (She's an incredibly gifted cookie artist and I personally think she should consider that her prize.)
The raffles are a bit more stressful. Each CookieCon attendee was given an envelope with a number of raffle tickets. There are several tables just packed with desirable cookier prizes ranging from a KitchenAid mixer to airbrush equipment to fancy schmancy cookie cutter sets, stencil kits, personalized ribbons, and, well, darn near everything you could wish for to make cookie production easier. There are little locked boxes in front of each item wherein you can deposit as many tickets as you want/have. So if one item is more important than the others, you might just blow your tickets all at once to give yourself multiple chances to win that one item! Or you might spread yourself out over many different things and just hope for the best. I have a strategy . . . but I can't publish it . . . because I plan to win. And we cannot all win!!! The winners will be announced at the banquet on Saturday night. I seriously cannot wait (to win).
Finally, the "Sugar Show" contest began today. Cash prizes are awarded in several categories for the best cookies (as voted on by attendees). In each category, cookiers could submit two entries (multiple cookies allowed per entry). The cookie pictures below are NOT mine . . . they are anonymous entries.
I walked in the door and took one look at the entries already displayed and nearly turned around and walked out with my head hung down in shame. BUT . . . then I remembered there are, wait for it . . . PRIZES just for participation!!! Zippity Do-Dah! So I marched myself over to the categories for which I had prepared and propped those babies up for all of CookieCon to hopefully quietly ignore.
I have uncharacteristically resigned myself to the fact that the cash prizes for talent are, sadly, off the table for this Sugar (Cookie) Momma. I'm not even in the same galaxy as most of these cookie artists. The talent, imagination, and creativity are unreal, and I will try to write/post about the Sugar Show separately. It deserves its own entry.
The day concluded with a welcome address by Karen and Mike Summers of Karen's Cookies, the organizers of CookieCon. The keynote address was given by Lisa Snyder, The Bearfoot Baker, who discussed the power of a cookie and all of the ways cookies bring us together. It was an exceptionally thought-provoking and heartwarming speech. It had nothing to do with prizes, swag, or winning . . . and yet, despite that I found myself completely engaged and feeling enriched.
She also read to the audience a special book created especially for CookieCon entitled, If You Give A Cookie Decorator An Order, inspired by the beloved children's book series. It is nothing short of hilarious. It's also filled with cookie illustrations of the story, a collaborative effort by many cookier fan favorites. As a special surprise, it was announced that each attendee was to be given a copy of the book.
I tried to be cool and wait on line for my copy like everybody else . . . but I'll admit it was an anxiety-ridden couple of minutes. My new friend was standing next to me waiting patiently for hers while I was secretly plotting how to rip it out of her hands and sprint outta there if she happened to get the last copy before I got mine. #winning
P.S. I'm happy to report that Dotty from Sugar Dot Cookies did not petition for a restraining order against me following yesterday's post. In fact, she took a "selfie" with me AND spent half an hour imparting amazing advice and counsel! #reallywinning
Jen Wagman is the owner of Sugar (Cookie) Momma, Inc., founded in July 2012 on a complete lark following a couple of her kids' birthday parties and a dare from a good friend. In the ensuing years, Jen's cookies have been featured at corporate and private events, and the United States Capitol! She lives outside Annapolis, Maryland with her husband Matt and four kids (including four-year-old identical twin boys). Jen is also a practicing veterans' law attorney in Washington, D.C. Her cookie philosophy is to have a solid combination of a delicious cookie and a fearless attitude toward decorating. Trying and failing is part of the process. Imperfect cookies will still make somebody very happy (especially in the Wagman house!). While at CookieCon: Since Jen is a CookieCon newbie, she'll be capturing what it's like to be a first-timer through a series of daily blog posts.
Photo credit: Jen Wagman
Note: This article expresses the views of the author, and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. To read more CookieCon 2015 updates from our special Cookie Connection Correspondents Team, click here, and for CookieCon event photos, click here.