88 - berlin heights basket festival

42.) Berlin Heights Basket Festival – August 8, 2010

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In 1858, Samuel Patterson founded the Berlin Fruit Box Company in Berlin Heights, Ohio to make the ladders, crates and baskets that nearby orchards needed. Now in its sixth generation of basket making, the family company is the oldest basket making business in Ohio – and the second in the nation – concentrating on home basket collections.

But in this town of less than 700 people, there’s even a second basket making company, Village Baskets, so it only makes sense to hold a Basket Festival right here…

…in Berlin Heights.

Taking place in the middle of town, next to Berlin-Milan Middle School, the festival had that small town feel with some interesting extras.

Food was set up along a closed street…

…starting with a fenced-in beer tent…

…and then offering various delights as you ventured further down…

…from the ever-so-familiar Berardi’s stand…

…to a tropical smoothie shack.

Covered tables were set up for festival goers to enjoy their food…

…as they watched the entertainment on the stage before them…

…with the King himself…

…and he was in rare form.

The King and his band entertained us with their great performance…

…honoring festival royalty with pretty gifts…

…and even honoring some local fans.

He really was a treat.

Next to the closed road was a grassy area, where it looked like a huge yard sale…

…packed with vendor booths and tents…

…selling everything from boxed books to stuffed animals.

Along the sides were three raffles, where the winners could win…
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…a bike, a gator or a car.

And they even had a guy who made balloon shapes and hats.

But amidst the old Stephen King books and Dora the Explorer pillows…

…there were baskets…

…lots of baskets.

One table held Village Basket products…

…ranging from picnic baskets to baskets of everyday use.

Next to it, the Berlin Fruit Box Company set up its collections…
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…in elegant displays…

…where I was fortunate enough to find a model to show it off.

They even had someone making baskets on site.

We checked the time and it was almost 6 o’clock, the time set for the festival’s pie eating contest. As the King started to wind down, we ran to this tent area….
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…and I signed up.

Apart from the fact that the contest was free and meant eating pie, I needed to see for myself whether I had the swift eating skills necessary for such contests. As you may remember, I entered the meatball eating contest at the Dean Martin Festival in Steubenville. But it was intensely hot that day and my dry throat found great difficulty getting those meatballs down.

Surely, pie would be different, right? I had to know for sure.

But first I had to wait…

…because the kids were going first.

And even though the Queen got to use a fork…

…the rest of them went face first and foreshadowed the experience I would soon have.

Moments later, I sat where they did…
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…and I was tad nervous.

Remembering the meatball eating contest, I hydrated myself with the water they gave me…

…convincing myself that these were the small Mama Jo’s Pies.

It would be a cinch!

After a few minutes of anticipation, I took some deep breaths. But I couldn’t relax completely.

My heart skipped a beat as the judge yelled “Go!” and my head dropped down…

…attempting to suck the whipped cream off the top.

As I began to reach the pudding, it became harder to get in deep enough without shoving whipped cream up my nose…

… so I used my tongue to scoop out the filling.

This worked at first, but the thick filling started to get stuck in my throat.

I took bites at the crust…

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…to help push the pudding down.

Unfortunately, my rivals seemed like they were still ahead.

A few bites later without any water to wash things down…
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…I started to feel the weight of it all.

My eating seriously slowed…

…and I could go no further.

Once the winner was declared, I cleaned my face of chocolate…

…and my nasal passages of whipping cream.

And, although my face looks beaten and overwhelmed…

…it was soooo worth it.

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