- Pirate Captain Ray Poudrier holds his 2008 winning Hawley Grove Pudding as Judge (and First Mate) Michael Collins adjusts the crown.
Lovers of food and country life are cordially invited to the 2009 Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival–a day of cooking, eating, music, shopping, and mirth.
This fun culinary event will take place on Saturday, October 31, 2009, at the Federated Church in Charlemont, Massachusetts, from 11 am to about 3 pm. All proceeds will benefit the building project of the Sons & Daughters of Hawley, Massachusetts, the historical society for our rural hamlet.
The day features a pudding contest, sales of local wares, lunch, a pudding parade, and homespun entertainment.
Last year’s playlet told the “true” story of a group of pirates who sailed upstream to tiny Hawley in search of pudding. We’re still working on the 2009 script. Since this year’s festival falls on Halloween we have a feeling a ghost or two may be involved, although the pirates had such a good time that they are lobbying for a return engagement! In any case, the entertainment will be a little corny, a little outlandish, and full of songs for players and audience to sing.
Puddings are due at 11 am, and sales tables will open then. Lunch will be served promptly at noon, and the parade, entertainment, and crowning will start at about 1:30.
SINCE THE FESTIVAL IS ON HALLOWEEN we are encouraging both contestants and the general public to celebrate this day. We will offer small but delectable prizes to the best pumpkin-related pudding and the spookiest pudding–and also a prize to the person with the best costume! We promise to get you out in plenty of time for trick or treating.
The festival itself is free and open to the public (the back door of the church has a wheelchair ramp). We do ask a for a donation for lunch (the suggested amount is $12). And we welcome any additional donations!
The church is in the middle of the town of Charlemont, Massachusetts, on Route 2. If you have a GPS, set it to 175 Main Street.
Fun, food, and a worthy cause. Who could ask for anything more?
THE PUDDING CONTEST
The most suspenseful event of the day is the Pudding Contest! Each aspiring cook is asked to bring his or her pudding to the Federated Church by 11 am, along with the recipe for the pudding and a check for $12 made out to the Sons & Daughters of Hawley. The puddings will be judged by a panel of experts who will walk away full but (we hope!) happy.
Every year the contest attracts wonderful judges, and this year will be no exception. Author Edie Clark is a contributing editor to Yankee magazine and writes the blog Today at Mary’s Farm. Repeat judge Kathleen Wall is the colonial foodways culinarian at Plimoth Plantation, where she prepares many puddings. And Michaelangelo Wescott is the co-owner and chef of the glorious Gypsy Apple Bistro in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
In past years we have had an earlier semi-final round, but this year we’re inviting ALL the contestants to come on the big day.
Here are pictures of a few of last year’s entries………
THE ORIGINAL PUDDING CONTEST:
Not much is known about the pudding contest that inspired today’s gala festival. Hawley’s first (and until recently its only) culinary event took place in the late 18th century. Here is what historian Louise Hale Johnson wrote in her History of the Town of Hawley (1953):
In the primitive days, probably before 1780, Mrs. Baker, wife of Timothy Baker, was matched against another woman, to see which would make the largest hasty pudding. Mrs. Baker made hers in a five-pail kettle, and came out triumphantly the “pudding head” of Hawley.
“Pudding Head” Abigail Kibbe Baker and her husband Timothy moved to Hawley in 1772 from nearby Sunderland when she was 22 and he 24. The contest probably took place in the eight years between their arrival in town and 1780. Not much is known about the contest; Hawleyites would love to have the name of the other contestant, or Abigail Baker’s winning pudding recipe. Nevertheless, the sheer practicality of the event, which highlighted a nourishing staple of daily New England life and emphasized the ability to feed a crowd, has appealed to generations of Hawley residents. It is immortalized in the name of the neighborhood in which the Bakers lived, Pudding Hollow.
The current contest emphasizes quality rather than quantity: there will be no prize for the largest pudding, and contestants are urged to leave their file-pail kettles at home. Nevertheless, the Sons and Daughters of Hawley hope that this year’s contest will prove as memorable as its 18th-century predecessor. If the last few Pudding Festivals are anything to judge by, it will be!
CREDITS AND THANKS:
This project has been funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as administered by the Charlemont/Hawley Cultural Council.
Many thanks also to the terrific companies and individuals who have donated funds and prizes to support the Pudding Contest.
PUDDING CONTEST SPONSORS FOR 2009:
A.L. Avery & Son General Store in Charlemont, Massachusetts
The Charlemont/Hawley Cultural Council
OUR FABULOUS LUNCHEON DONORS:
The Donovan Farm, Hawley, Massachusetts
Please join us on October 31. Feel free to contact us with questions. Meanwhile, here’s a look at the 2008 Pudding Festival:
Hawleyites and Friends tell the story of "The Pirates of Pudding Hollow."
The Pirates consult their scripts.
Water sprites take a message down the Chickley River.
A battle ensues.
Alice Parker presides at the piano.
Smiles all around.
Pudding Hollow's oldest resident.
Heroine Abigail Baker sings and saves the day.
The Pudding Parade begins.
Paraders line up after depositing their puddings.
Our fabulous kitchen volunteers take a moment to relax.
Judges Kathleen Wall, Stephen Dias, and Michael Collins worked hard!
Hawley's selectmen made this official proclamation in 2004. They also presented the Sons & Daughters of Hawley with a plaque praising the historical significance of pudding to the town - and declaring June 20, 2004, Pudding Day in Hawley.
And here’s a listen………..
A couple of years ago Charlene Scott of WFCR sat in on the pudding-contest judging and filed a report. Click here to download it.
REMEMBER, PUDDING ISN’T JUST SOMETHING YOU GET OUT OF A BOX!!!