JEFF TIEDEMAN: Good eatsFood adds flavor to many small-town celebrations.
Small-town celebrations can be a blast. Whether it’s an observation commemorating a community’s founding or just an annual get-together that’s grown into something much larger, these type of events are the kind that have people talking about them weeks — and sometimes months — after they’ve occurred.
Usually, there are all kinds of doings to keep a person busy. Many celebrations feature live music. Some have talent shows. Others often conclude with fireworks.
But one thing is for sure about small-town celebrations. There’s never a shortage of food.
And in the case of some of them, such as Aneta, N.D.’s annual Turkey Barbecue and Summer Festival, superlatives about it often are bantered about.
The Aneta gala is one event that prominently features food that I haven’t had the occasion to attend, as is the case with the Walker (Minn.) Cajun Festival at the Northern Lights Casino. But that doesn’t mean that neither is on my radar.
While I’ve already missed my chance to munch on a turkey drumstick this year in Aneta (the 50th annual event was held last month), the Walker food extravaganza is Aug. 19-21, so that’s definitely still a possibility. The Cajun fest is one that I really want to attend since several friends who have been to it in the past generally have raved about the food.
But before any creamy pralines or buttery king cake (and hopefully some jambalaya, gumbo or etouffee) cross my lips, I’ll have had my share of sweets.
That’s because Saturday I’m heading off to help judge desserts at the Second Annual McBake-Off Challenge that is part of McVille Days in McVille, N.D. (McVille is about 50 miles southwest of Grand Forks on state Highway 15.)
I’ll be joined by LeCordon Bleu graduate and local chef, Esther Bjorlie Donohue, as well as last year’s People’s Choice winner, Carol Sand.
Sandy Johnson, of the McVille Planning Committee, said there were more than 25 entries last year. The 2009 winner was John Kelly of Pekin, N.D., whose Gingerbread Pumpkin Truffle wowed the judges, including my co-worker, Marilyn Hagerty. (Other winners were Betty Bina (fresh fruit tart) and Jan Thompson (carrot cake), both of McVille. Other desserts included a pink lemonade pie, a chocolate ganache tart with a cherry vodka sauce, an earthquake cake and cookie pizza.
As is usual with such small-town events, there’s a lot more going on besides the dessert challenge (2 p.m. Saturday). On Friday, there will be root beer floats and old-time music at the Care Center, followed by a hot dog/brat supper (with musical entertainment) at the McVille Dam. Later that night, there will be castle-building, canoe races and a street dance with Boomtown.
On Saturday, events include a 5K run/walk, bike parade, bingo at the senior hall, acrobatic air show, paper plate drop, a junior golf scramble and supper in the park with musical entertainment provided by Great Plains Harmony from Fargo featuring Hee Haw. The local TPR Band will play the street dance.
Festivities conclude Sunday with a fly-in pancake breakfast at the airport, church in the park, golf and a Kids Fishing Derby.
Do you suppose sometimes being called a big kid by my wife qualifies me for the fishing derby?
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.