I recently had the honor of serving as a “celebrity” judge for the Rhubarb Dessert Baking Contest at the 26th annual Rhubarb Festival at Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse. I was chosen by Director of Fun Lisa Horn to represent the many fans of Pat Burnley’s charming village of shops, sweets, and success nestled in the village of Intercourse. I must say, it was quite an honor for me and well worth the drive-up from Winston-Salem, NC.
The Rhubarb Festival began on Friday, and was highlighted by cooking demonstrations, live music, and sampling of rhubarb based food and drink. The weather was beautiful and there was a sizable crowd enjoying the sights and sounds of the Village. The first cooking demonstration was conducted by Kitchen Kettle’s “Food Guy,” Tom Rothfus. Tom is the former owner of Market Fare restaurant (now Carr’s) in Lancaster and a former chef for an Army general. Tom made rhubarb chutney and a goat cheese and strawberry salad with a rhubarb onion vinaigrette dressing. They were both delicious and a big hit with the crowd (and with me, as I had two servings).
Some of the foods sampled throughout the Village included: Rhubarb Sangria, Spicy Rhubarb BBQ Cocktail Wieners, naked rhubarb (or with salt or sugar), Rhubarb Dessert Quesadillas, and Rhubarb Salsa. While walking around the Village my friend Sarah from the PA Dutch Convention and Visitor’s Bureau spotted me and we chatted a bit. She was filming some of the Festival, including the Rhubarb Whoopie Pie Filling Contest. My wife took part in this event, in which contestants had to make six Lemon Rhubarb Whoopie Pies and package them. The Whoopies were quite good and I told Kristine Grego, Kitchen Kettle’s Food Specialist, that she should sell them during the month of May. Kristine, held the second demonstration making a rhubarb tiramisu and a Rhubarb Turkey Monte Cristo Panini. Both were excellent, of course.
The Rhubarb Dessert Baking contest was held on Saturday morning. After the competition, pieces of the desserts were sold with all proceeds going to Lancaster Farmland Trust. The desserts were broken down into three categories with four judges for each category. The categories were: pies, cakes, and open competition (cookies, etc.). I was asked to judge in the pie category with Cheryl Deaven of the PA Dutch CVB, Paul Abrams representing Kitchen Kettle Lodging fans, and Karen Martynik, Director of Lancaster Farmland Trust. In the open Rhubarb Dessert competition, PA State House District 100 Representative Bryan Cutler, Cory Amman of Willow Valley Resort, Rick Stein of MIX 106.7 FM, and Connie Shuff, a former Grand Champion of the Rhubarb Dessert Baking Contest were the judges. In the Rhubarb Cake category the judges were Lynn Schmidt Miller of Lancaster Newspapers, Sue Long of Lancaster County Magazine, and Donald Robinson a retired board member of Lancaster Farmland Trust.We sampled 16 different pies, and two other desserts for the Grand Champion Prize, which turned out to be a Rhubarb Pear Pie by Belinda Myers of Dallastown, PA (this pie also won the pie competition).
I suppose I ate a total of about four or five pieces of pie during the entire competition. A couple were excellent, a couple were, let’s say not up to par, but most were good. The emcee of the event, Jerry Reeser, was hilarious and kept asking people if they had been to Winston-Salem (after finding out that is where I live) and that the winner of the competition would get $250 and a trip to Winston-Salem. I told him I would rather just stay in Lancaster County!