Although contest rules forbid sweepstakes winners from entering the contest for three years, Counce is already looking forward to cooking at the California Mid-Winter Fair and Fiesta next month, and the Del Mar Fair next summer.
Angela Marlow of Holtville took second place with "Easy Cheesy Carrot Casserole." Shelly Osuna, also of Holtville, came in third with "Carrot Asian Slaw On Noodles." Marlow also earned an honorable mention for "Carrot Artichoke Munchies." Prizes included cash, ribbons and craft items.
The other contestants included Mona Locher of El Centro and Nils Nilson and Margarita Bernardi, both of Holtville.
Bernardi, a former sweepstakes winner from many years ago, spent her time embroidering a tablecloth as she awaited the judges' decision.
Bernardi said she felt confident as she arrived early for Friday's contest. She quickly put together the ingredients for her "Praline Carrot Cake" and stuck it in the oven. She soon discovered she left out the coconut and nuts. She dumped the batter back into the bowl and hastily added the missing ingredients and again put the cake into the oven.
When she checked the refrigerator a bit later she noticed the half dozen eggs she was supposed to put in the cake. She once again took the cake out of the oven and mixed in the eggs. The batter was then put back into the oven for the third time.
"It was just a bad day for my cooking," Bernardi said.
Counce and the rest of the finalists rode in the Carrot Festival Parade on Saturday.
Judges for the sweepstakes contest were: Connie Ihidoy, Lynee' Pacheco, David Avila, Marguerite Muller and Kim Grizzle, all of Holtville.
Sponsors for the cooking contests were Mercer Ranch, Holtville Chamber of Commerce, Kern Ridge Growers, Ernie Strahm & Sons, Bolthouse Farms, Valley Independent Bank and Danna Banana's Unique Crafts.