Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Village Fall Festival--PUMPKIN MAGIC

Our village had their second annual Fall Festival and the food prep for the evening fund raiser began early that morning.
Thirty pounds of very fresh hamburger was slowly defrosted and then I went to a nearby farmers home and learned how to make hamburger patties by the dozens with a special nifty keen hamburger patty maker..

We made 100 of them and put them in the fridge until the Dance & Dinner at 6 pm

Ater the kitchen was cleaned up, my hamburg making farmer showed me her very rare Long Island Cheese pumpkin that she grew in one of her productive gardens.  It was BEAUTIFUL.   It felt so smooth to the touch.  I had never seen one, or felt one, before and there were only 2 out in her field that survived the summer. The other one had been eaten by a village family and this particular specimen was going to be put on exhibit at the Fall Festival.

After admirering her gardens we headed to the village to start setting up.
Since rain was predicted, another volunteer (who is also a busy farmer) purchased lots of very large tarps to cover the books at the annual Library Book Sale, OUTSIDE, at the library

Later I would recall this moment and realize how smart it was of him to actually think to do this hours ahead of time.   I certainly had no idea that rain would actually cause an issue with our special day.

For the second year in a row I was asked to judge the Giant Zucchini Contest.
I brought table cloths, ID stickers for the zukes and set up my table.

Mavis entered the only zucchini that grew in our garden. (bet you did not know that a reluctant cowdog could grow a zucchini, did ya?)
Two other village people entered their biggest and best as well.

Next to my contest table I set up another table for Share The Harvest.
Local gardeners brought in their surplus vegetables to share with anyone who would like some fresh food, compliments of the garden club.

My co-hamburg maker brought in all her extra yellow squash, patty pan squash and cucumbers.
Not only is Peggy a farmer, master hamburg maker and an excellent gardener, she is also our village librarian.  She was in the process of setting up tables and bringing outside 5,000 books that needed to find new homes.  This is the library's big fundraiser for the year.

I had never seen a patty pan squash before either, so I was rather mesmerized by them.
I later took 2 home and cooked them up and was not impressed by their total lack of taste.
Have any of you cooked them  ?

So as the Fall Faestival opened I had a full table of veggies to give away.

This unusual Pumpkin got a lot of attention and many questions were asked about it.
Everyone that "met" the pumpkin had to hold it and touch it.   Feels different from any other pumpkin I have ever "met."  And its the only one of its kind in this village, thats for sure!


There were many books for sale from local authors.
Our village is fortunate to have so many well known writers in its midst.

There were many other vendors setting up their tables on Main Street.

Lots of folks came by to say "Hi"

Ed came and got some squash.

When I looked up from my table I saw a young man trying to carry a huge zucchini across the street.
It looked like he was having a hard time balancing the big vegetable and walk at the same time.

Derek came right up to the contest table and proudly registered his big zuke.

He grew it himself in a garden at a friends house.
He was inspired by the contest winners from last year and wanted to be part of the unusual event.

I would be weighing all the zucchini at high nooon.

It was now 10 am and most of the squash had found homes and another local gardener brought a bushel of tomatoes to give away.  A nice change of color.

Everyone made connections on Main Street, greeting old friends and exchanging all the latest news.

A woman from Louisiana was in town for a vacation and she picked up a few patty pan squash for lunch.

The local famous sweet corn farmer, Mr Leet, was selling his delicious products from the tailgate of his truck.

Others were enjoying the local ice cream.

At noon I got the "Official scale" and started weighing all the entries in the Giant Zucchini Contest.

It wasn't even close. Derek won the contest by a big lead.  7.2 lbs won it.
His zuke was the biggest and deserving of the Grand Prize.

Every person with a camera took a photo of our winner.

And then we did the Champions Walk down Main Street as people cheered, clapped and high fived this third grader.
His prizes:
A 8x11 color photo of Zucchini
Zucchini seeds for next years garden
A Zucchini cook book
A 250th anniversary shirt from the town
AND bragging rites for the year!

Just as the cheering and clapping died down the skies opened up and the rain came pouring down.

Everyone grabbed tarps and covered the books, all the other exhibits and the vendor tables.

Peggy got soaked as she rescued the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin from my table.

The Dance and Dinner was quickly moved from the wet municipal parking lot to the local church vestry.  Everyone hustled to move food, grills, tables, chairs, music,  tents and everything else.
It was a mammoth challenge and all the library volunteers rose to the occasion.

I ran home to change my wet clothes and then reported for duty as volunteers set up for dinner.

Nancy was cutting and arranging the sunflower center pieces.

The grills starting arriving.

A tent was quickly erected on the church lawn.

The official Burger Chef started grilling.  I was the souse chef for him.
He actually raised and donated the beef we made the hamburgs from.
Local. Fresh.  Delicious.

People started arriving for dinner.

The vestry was transformed to a dinner hall.  Lots of hungry locals came to enjoy the food, company and music.

We ran out of space as it rained outside.

The band had a trivia game about local history and everyone participate AND won prizes.
I won a great library shirt!

 Daughters brought their mothers and mothers brought their daughters to this special fund raising event for the library.  Our little village library is more like a community building. Its where we planned out the community garden, have book club meetings, garden club meetings, special guest speakers, computer assistance and other cultural events.
More importantly, this church and the library are the two places where people can go for help if they need food, clothing, or other assistance.

The librarian and I, with help from other garden volunteers, supplied the food shelf, at this church, with fresh vegetables from the Rowe community garden and our own gardens all summer.  The frost has ended the gardens and winter is fast approaching so food will have to be purchased to restock the shelves.

The band played and we all sang along.
Fun songs, many of them Scottish because this area was settled by an entire Scottish village that came over, by ship, from Scotland in 1774.

This band has a very humorous lead guitarist.
He is also a teacher, town meeting moderator, farmer and church deacon.
Laughter is what you hear whenever this band plays. They give generously of their time.

A good time was had by all and eventually people left, we all cleaned up the vestry and went home, exhausted.

Post Script:

Well, after we got rained out on Main St, the librarian gave me this unique pumpkin..and it has changed my foodie life.
I gotta tell you that I have NEVER tasted anything SO delicious in my life.
Not even Lobster chowder, my favorite, can hold a candle to the flavor of this orb!

It made the BEST pumpkin soup and the sweetest pumpkin pie I have EVER had.

Thankfully, I just acquired TWO more of these rare pumpkins this week from my Librarian. She found them hiding under tall grass as she was closing up her garden. I am making more soup, pie, cookies, muffins, breads and anything else I can think of, putting them all in the freezer so I can relish the flavors of autumn all winter long!.

 I will never use any other kind of pumpkin again!
I am growing some next year!

I saved some seeds!
Anybody want some ?
Seeds are from Vermont grown pumpkins. Grown by our village librarian.

I am willing to part with 20 seeds per person for a $5 donation to our local church food shelf.

Its a win-win for you, the local food shelf and your garden!

Email me if you are interested in this delicious project.
Please put Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Seeds in the subject line.
Help restock the food shelf.

I guarantee that you will never want to eat any other pumpkin after you taste this one!

More facts about this tasty treat:

Long Island heirloom.
Medium-large, flattened, medium-ribbed, suggesting a wheel of cheese. Smooth, tan skin, slender woody stem. Deep orange, moderately sweet flesh for pie. Long storage. A beautiful oldie. Avg. 6-10 lb. Avg. yield: 2 fruits/plant. 

 This variety of squash is more closely related to a butternut than a pumpkin and has been cultivated on Long Island since the 1800s. Sometime in the 1960s they started to disappear. Maybe they fell out of favor or maybe there was a blight that took the crop out. In any case, it’s taken a long time to come back, but thank goodness it did. In addition to being irresistibly cute (it’s shaped like a ridged, flattened wheel of cheese) it is much richer in flavor and color than your run-of-the-mill pumpkin. It’s squashier than butternut too.

An interesting video about the attributes and advantages of the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin 
Orange Paradise

Hot & Gold
 " the most important discovery I have made, as someone who has wanted the perfect Pumpkin Soup Recipe for years, is that the secret is not the recipe. The secret is the kind of pumpkin. Who knew? And what I have learned through all these weeks of pumpkin and winter squash learning and sharing is that the very best pumpkin to use for pumpkin soup bears the unlikely name Long Island Cheese Pumpkin."


If you go to all the links and read, you will notice a common thread about the absolute deliciousness of this kind of pumpkin.

Have a food adventure!!

Have you tried this pumpkin ?


  1. Wow! That pumpkin looks so smooth and perfect...almost unreal looking! I have never encountered a cheese pumpkin, but I'm intrigued by the praises you have sung. I love making pumpkin purée every autumn to use in recipes.

  2. You have make lovely photos!
    Greetings, RW & SK

  3. Your little hamlet sounds so wonderful. You have so many great gatherings and nice, sharing and caring people.

  4. oops...lost the comment i just typed. what a fabulous affair your town had. it is so nice to see all the locals come out. i love those cheese pumpkins. we have lots of them here but i've never cooked with them. i will have to try this now. i usually stuff those patty pan squash because they are bland and watery. the little boy with the winning zucchini will remember that day for his whole life! thanks for showing this!

  5. your town always looks like it has so much fun!

  6. You've really got my attention with the Long Island Cheese pumpkin! It's gorgeous! I think I would have enjoyed your village's festival...sounds like a great time. Way to go Derek!

  7. Sounds like it was a full and wonderful day that the rain couldn't put a damper on!
    Derek sure had one huge zucchini! Seven pounds! That would make a lot of zucchini bread! And the Long Island Cheese pumpkin.... I thought perhaps it was really made of cheese!