Leaves are not the only things beginning to fall from the trees of Indiana. In Mitchell, the community’s beloved persimmons have begun their annual drop. This Saturday, the town celebrates persimmon season with the 66th Mitchell Indiana Persimmon Festival. As any veteran persimmon baker will tell you, the local fruit is best harvested once it falls naturally from the tree. Alverta Hart, persimmon and novelty dessert coordinator for the Persimmon Festival says the fruit has a “puckery” and unpleasant taste if harvested directly from the branch. And since the majority of the 130 to 230 contestants who flock to the festival each year reference a similar, if not almost identical, pudding recipe, it is important to pick persimmons at the peak of maturity.
Eight-time persimmon pudding champion Eva Powell has her doubts about this year’s persimmon crop, mainly due to the arid summer. Powell, who both grows her own persimmons from a small tree in her Mitchell backyard and purchases them from local stands throughout the town, doubts that this year’s persimmons will shine as much as they have in years past.
Rain or shine, contestants continue to produce grandma-worthy desserts for both the pudding and novelty dessert competition each year. There have been the familiar pies and fruitcakes as well as the more exotic ice cream and even a memorable persimmon chili. The only dessert that will get you eliminated from the novelty contest? Cookies.
Want to experience the persimmon pandemonium for yourself? The persimmon pudding and novelty dessert contest happens this Saturday, September 29th, in downtown Mitchell. Judging begins promptly at 11:05 a.m., with contestants following strict guidelines on dessert size, presentation, and disposability. Following the judging: a grand parade at 2 p.m. and the crowning of the persimmon pudding and novelty champion at 4:15 p.m.
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