There are two contest months annually ... February (the major one) and August.
On each occasion there are multiple contests to enter so you should be able to find one or more to suit your tastes and the style of pen you make. . You can enter as many contests as you wish at both times of the year. . Usually you can have only one entry per contest.
You seem to already have found the archived threads on the past contests so from them you will get a good idea of the themes of the contests.
It is never too early to start your preparation for the contests, but bear in mind that you should not post pictures beforehand of any pens that you propose to enter into a contest that is coming up. . If you do, you will be disqualified.
When you enter a contest your identity is concealed until the winners are announced.
Judging of the contests is done by IAP members who volunteer for that role.
Thanks for the response you have raised another question for me. I have some pens that i entered in the state fair and won best of show with will they be disqualified to enter any contest here ? And i was going to try and figure out how to post some pictures so your timely and informative replies are greatly appreciated.
I don't know about those pens you already won a prize/award for ... your question would be best directed to one of the contest-managing senior members here ... perhaps Jeff or mredburn could answer ... just send a Private Message (PM) to one of them. . A PM would get their attention in case they are not aware of this thread.
Posting pictures here is a little bit quirky but I am sure you will figure it out. Start by clicking on "Photos" at the top in the dark blue bar. . At one point, when you are uploading a picture to the Gallery you need to enter a name for the picture on two separate lines, as I recall.
You first click Photos, then click Upload, and then select a Category (for that choose Member Photo Albums). . There is a little more to it than that. . Your photo size has to be below a certain pixel limit.
Once you have photos in your Album (automatically created during the above process), you can display a photo when you are entering the text for your post by clicking on an obscure little box in the lower right corner of your text-entering screen.
There are other ways to do it but that is the general procedure I use. . One other way is to link to a cloud.