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The new Pudding Head (right, with crown), Matt Stinchfield, savors his victory.



Our once-every-five-years event, the Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival, was a joyous day of eating, singing, laughing, and of course PUDDING. (We also made lots of money to help renovate the Hawley Meeting House!)

The festivities began with registration of contestants at the Hawley Grove. Our judges (Dennis Picard, living-history specialist; Charlotte Rutledge, test-kitchen manager at King Arthur Flour; and Kathleen Wall, colonial-foodways culinarian at Plimoth Plantation) got to work tasting the puddings.

While everyone awaited lunch (it was too cold to do a lot of outdoor exploring) Peter Mitchell of Headwater Cider served samples of his cider.

Contestants and friends seemed to enjoy their cider.

While our sumptuous lunch was being served, the judges deliberated long and hard.

After lunch, contestants and spectators trooped over to the Meeting House. John Sears welcomed everyone, we sang a song, and the contestants and judges paraded around the old church with their puddings. The contestants introduced themselves to the crowd and talked briefly about the genesis of their puddings. The puddings all sounded delicious … and very, very rich.

Part of the Pudding Parade.

Our impromptu players then performed their entertainment, “The Vampires of Pudding Hollow.” Its highlight was a brand-new “Vampire Song” composed for the occasion by our own Alice Parker. Audience members participated in the music lustily, shouting “PUDDING!” repeatedly throughout the chorus.

After the skit, we got down to business. The judges noted that there were no losers among the puddings but also confessed that they might have liked a few more savory puddings; there was a definite aura of sugar in their tasting room.

The first-place pudding-head award went to Matt Stinchfield of Guilford, Vermont, a brewery consultant who concocted a Scottish-Style Spiced Steam Pudding. (Alcohol was involved!) Our second-place winners were a mother-and-daughter duo, Deb Smith and Kate Corwin of Southfield, Connecticut, with an August Sunshine Pudding.

We are grateful to our many wonderful donors and sponsors, as well as to our hard-working judges. No one went home empty handed. Organizer Tinky Weisblat would like to express special thanks to all the community members who helped out.

The Pudding Festival will return sometime in 2024. We trust that day will be as memorable as this one was. One of the contestants, Janice Sorensen of Buckland, gushed, “I love this event. I look forward to this even more than to a trip to Europe.”

 

The Winning Pudding.


The Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival is coming up! Save Sunday, October 6, as your date for Hawley Magic in 2019. This event takes place only once every five years so you won’t want to miss it. The day will begin with the arrival of puddings, which are due at 11 a.m. Lunch will take place at 12:30 or thereabouts, and our entertainment will get going around 1:30 (when everyone has eaten and the judges have made their difficult decisions).

Our judges this year will be Dennis Picard, a living-history professional who specializes in
 puddings and ice cutting; Charlotte Rutledge, manager of the test kitchen at King Arthur Flour; and Kathleen Wall, colonial foodways culinarian at Plimoth Plantation.

 

Do check out our roster of wonderful prizes. And the menu to the right will give you lots of information about where we are, what we do, and how you can participate.

If you’re planning to submit a pudding, you won’t be left to twiddle your thumbs until lunch. Our neighbors at Headwater Cider will offer hard ciders to taste, and we can direct you to local sites like the Hawley Bog, the Old Town Common, and the Charcoal Kiln. If you’re NOT planning to submit a pudding, feel free to come at noon and join us. The day offers plenty of fun even for non-cooks.

By the way, if you DO plan to enter the contest, bring along a cooler. You may win a food that needs to be preserved.

JonesWe are making progress on the next Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival, scheduled for October 6, 2019!


Prizes and donors are being lined up. We have a couple of judges lined up as well. An entertainment is in infant form. And we hope lots of people are practicing their pudding recipes!Meanwhile, here is a memory of the first revived pudding contest in 2004, from Martha Ackmann, one of our judges that year. Another judge was the legendary cookbook editor Judith Jones. After Judith’s death, Martha recorded a remembrance of their afternoon together. I may be found here on the website of our local public-radio station, NEPR: https://www.nepr.net/post/proof-pudding-encounter-modesty.


Thank you, Martha!

 

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The Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival will return on Sunday, October 6, 2019.

Please plan to join us for this festive day of food and folk culture. You may enter a pudding in our contest or just enjoy the ambiance, the entertainment, and the delicious lunch. More details will be posted here soon, but START THINKING PUDDING NOW!

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Will Cosby won the Pie Contest with his Ginger Apple “Moose” Pie.

The Hawley Gentlemen’s Pie and Tart Extravaganza took place on a rainy day—but the dampness didn’t seem to affect anyone’s fun.
The pies arrived on time.

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Our three judges (only two are pictured below; the other got lost in West Hawley and will show up in a later photo!) took their job very seriously and deliberated long and hard.

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While the judging took place most of the crowd huddled indoors. A few brave souls ventured out to investigate Hawley’s lovely (if wet) scenery and history.

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After the judging session lunch was served to an appreciative crowd of all ages.

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The pie parade followed.

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Musical director Alice Parker took the name “Alfred” for the day so she could enter the contest.

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Some contestants entered more than one pie.

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The musical entertainment staged a re-enactment of the first men’s pie contest in Hawley. Winner Clarence Gould was forced to learn to make pie because his fiancée Nettie King couldn’t handle pastry.

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The contestants anxiously awaited the results.

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Finally, Will Cosby of Hawley was crowned the King of Pie and given his own Pie Apron.

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In short, a good time was had by all! Thanks to our donors and sponsors, to our diligent judges—Doris Cooper, Darra Goldstein, and Kathleen Wall—and to all who came! Special thanks as well to the lunch crew and to the wonderful people who took the photographs on this page: Georgette de Friesse, Suzy Groden, and Mardi Smith. By the way, Judge Kathleen has posted an essay about her part in the day. If you’ve ever contemplated judging a pie contest, here are her words of wisdom.

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If you’d like to hear Tinky talk about the Extravaganza on the Bill Newman radio show (her interview was a preview of the event; we hope lots of people heard it and attended!), click here. Tinky’s segment begins at about 45:50.

will-apron-cwebThe next Pudding Festival won’t take place until 2019. We DO have a fun food-oriented contest coming up in the fall of 2016–with a twist!

The Record Book of the Ladies Aid Society of Hawley, Massachusetts, includes “A Sketch of the Ladies Aid,” written about 1920 by Mattie Carter White. Mrs. White wrote:

At one time there was a contest for the women sawing wood. The men had a pie baking contest. Mr. Clarence Gould got the prize for making the best pie.

Several gentlemen in town have asked for a revival of the pie-baking contest. (No ladies have asked for a revival of the wood-sawing tradition.) And so in October we plan to re-introduce THE HAWLEY GENTLEMEN’S PIE AND TART EXTRAVAGANZA.

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The contest will take place on October 9, the Sunday of Columbus Day weekend, at the Hawley Meeting House. The day will start with the arrival of the pies (due by 11 a.m., please!) at the Hawley Grove, across the road from the meeting house. While the judges deliberate, starting at 11:15, tours of nearby historical sites will be available for contestants and fans.

A delicious lunch hand-prepared by Hawley’s finest cooks will follow at 12:30 at the Grove. At about 1:30 (or whenever everyone has finished lunch), we will repair to the Meeting House for the Pie Parade, a brief musical entertainment, and the announcement of the winners!

Of course, men and boys outside Hawley are welcome to compete as well. Admission to the Extravaganza is free, although there is a $15 entry fee for the contest, and we request a donation for lunch. (We’d love other donations as well, of course, since the Meeting House restoration is an ongoing process.)

Start polishing those pie recipes! Please contact us if you have any questions.

And if you’d like a preview (with pies!), here’s a video. The recipe for Michael’s pie (and a link to the recipe for Tinky’s) may be found here.

 

Our new Pudding Head, Leslie Clark, smiles as judge Damon Herring applauds.

Our new Pudding Head, Leslie Clark, smiles as judge Damon Herring applauds.

The 2014 Pudding Festival fell on a GORGEOUS day. The puddings were beautiful and tasty. And the audience was enthusiastic.

The 2014 Pudding Head is a new resident of Hawley, Massachusetts, Leslie Clark. She was surprised but happy to find herself the winner.

The puddings arrived more or less promptly. Corn was still in season so we had three corn puddings! Leslie’s pudding was sweet rather than savory, however (sweet puddings ALWAYS seem to win our contest!). It was called Leslie’s Luscious Coconut Cream Custard.

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We did have a photo of the kitchen crew, who worked hard and produced a delectable lunch, but unfortunately the camera on which that photo is located is currently misplaced. Here instead is a picture of happy eaters. As you can see, the Hawley Grove was filled to the rafters.

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The pudding parade and entertainment went swimmingly. We had two cute cows onstage, plus a very youthful soldier leaving his mother to go off to war.

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Cows Magic and Marigold

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Daniel Burt Jr. bids farewell to his mother.

We sang and laughed and ate and enjoyed the beautiful town of Hawley. What more could anyone want?

Thanks to Faith Montgomery Paul for taking most of these photos. Thanks to our judges (Michael Collins, Damon Herring, and Dédé Wilson) and our volunteers in the Sons & Daughters of Hawley and beyond, particularly musical director Alice Parker.

And OF COURSE thanks to our donors. The prizes and the event were appreciated by all!

Stay tuned for our next culinary event, the

HAWLEY GENTLEMEN’S PIE AND TART EXTRAVAGANZA.

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