Inside the State Fair Spam Judging Fraternity

“It was as if a silent specter in a hooded cloak had tapped my shoulder at darkest midnight. I was in.”

That’s how Jacquielynn Floyd describes being chosen to be one of this year’s judges in the Great American Spam Championship at the State Fair, in this rather entertaining (but paywall’d) column. Apparently, it’s just about impossible to break into the Spam judging game. Here’s how she puts it:

“Years ago, when I half-jokingly mentioned to officials of the fair’s Creative Arts competitions that I wanted to try judging the Spam contest, they behaved as if I had casually suggested that I might like a seat on the Supreme Court. I was advised to recalibrate my goals.”

There are eight spots, and judges from the previous year get first dibs. There hadn’t been an opening in a while. There are several judges who’ve judged Spam for more than 20 years. Floyd only got in because someone else died. She never actually says how she was chosen — especially since she’d only consumed Spam twice in her life. (Maybe the column was part of the deal?) Or what it is about this particular cuisine that creates such loyal judges. Or how these other judges got their gigs. Or how much Spam they eat a year.

There’s so much more I want to know about this salty group.


  • Spam – yuk! I understand the competition to judge the cake contest or pies and cobblers … but Spam?

    This is my 20th year judging the food competitions at the State Fair. For the past 14 years, I’ve judged the ice cream contest and joked that the only way that spot will come open is if I die. Little did I know that there may be someone actually waiting in the wings for that to happen.

    Most of these cooking contests have several subcategories – including Spam. Can you imagine spending the day judging just spam appetizers or spam desserts?

    Thankfully, we’ve got some of the best cooks in the state within a few hours of Fair Park.