Tulsa woman competes in 50th Tulsa State Fair

Posted at 7:20 PM, Sep 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-30 20:20:03-04

As Donna Carman began baking Wednesday, the familiar sound of her stand mixer filled the air. The sound means a sweet treat will soon follow.

"You got to love to do it and you got to have patience, cause sometimes it turns out and sometimes it doesn't," Carman said.

Also known as the Gingerbread Woman, she has more gingerbread decorations filling her house than she can count, along with a license plate which reads GINRBRD.

If you need to find Carman, you can usually find her where you would expect to find her: In her kitchen.

"This is my hobby, I just like to bake," she said.

It is a hobby which turned competitive 50 years ago, when Carman first entered her baked goods in the Tulsa State Fair.

Now it takes up most of the year.

"Right after the holidays and everything, then I start looking for recipes to put in the fair," Carman said as she mixed up pumpkin bread with pecans.

The winning entries each year at the Tulsa State Fair are put on display for the crowds to see. Carman's name has become a familiar one over the years. 

"Started in 1965 and those ribbons on the wall over there were my first ones," she said as she pointed to the ribbons in her kitchen.

Carman didn't win a single ribbon during her first four years at the fair. She framed her first three ribbons, which she won with her award winning brownies. 

She assumed those would be her last ribbons. Decades later, though, she just keeps winning.

"It is amazing," she said with a table full of her ribbons in front of her. "It is amazing that I come up with 151 ribbons."

Her recipe for success over 50 years includes lots of practice and also specific ingredients. She has her go to brands when it comes to sugar, flour, butter and several other ingredients.

Her pecans are extra special.

"This here is a cup of chopped pecans," Carman said as she added them to her pumpkin bread Wednesday.

She doesn't travel far to get her pecans. They fall from the tree in her front yard.

"Close to 300 pounds. Close to 300 pounds," she said while standing next to the tree.

300 pounds is approximately how many pounds of pecans the 74-year-old picks up every year, all by herself.

With 151 ribbons in hand, Carman is now hoping for more success this year and beyond.

"If I didn't enter the fair, I wouldn't know what to do," she said. "It would be pretty boring around here I tell you. And what would I do with all those pecans?"

Carman will head to the Tulsa State Fair Friday with her nieces to see if she won any ribbons in 2015. This year she entered 2 cakes, a pie, gingerbread and two types of bread in the culinary competitions.