11 December 2013
My parents-in-law have a cherry orchard in Young, Australia’s cherry capital.
As luck would have it, we went back last weekend and the cherry festival was on at the same time, so after working in the shed on Saturday morning we headed into Young to take in the festivities. Our first stop was the market stalls that were setup in the main park, of particular interest for me was the impressive range of local food and produce on offer. Sausages, curly fries, a cherry pavlova and milkshake all got a run from me, but there were also cherry liquors, preserves, wine & cheese and of course cherries available to cater for all.
The event I was most keen to see on the schedule was the cherry pie eating contest – there were mens, womens, and kids category sections. A mass crowd gathered in Anderson Park to watch on, there were heats and then a final for each category. The competition is speed focused with the competitors required to eat two pies in the quickest amount of time. Technique & strategy play a big part, the most successful being two big shovels of pie into the mouth then a sip of water, then repeat. The line up was very multicultural with contestants primarily made up of pickers from the surrounding orchards, originating from France, Belgium, Germany and Taiwan. Cost of entry was a gold coin donation, for many fruit pickers this meant amazing value, two pies for a dollar and the actual contest was secondary. A local came through in the end with the reigning champ Ben from Byron Bay winning again in a photo finish.
Meeting Mr Pip was probably the highlight of the weekend. He is quite a character, causing mischief and popping up everywhere. The high pitched words in a similar vein to Mickey Mouse saying ‘do you want to pop my cherry’ as I posed for a photo will certainly stay with me for sometime.
The street parade had a great mix; a car club, vintage tractors, cherry queens past and present, dance schools and unfortunately only six bag pipe bands. The parade passes through the main st supported by big crowds of interested onlookers. Having been to Young during many different times of the year, it was great to see the town so busy and vibrant, with so much activity and options on offer.
The weekend finished up on the Sunday back at Lavender Hill with a game of car cherry box Tetris, the goal being trying to fit in as many boxes as possible into our car for the trip home. In the end we were 15 short of how many we wanted to have but 101 is a pretty good effort.