Independence Fruitcake Festival judges Joe Andrews, Judge Brian Lamb and Judge Dean Stout sample some of last yearâ€™s entries. The judges look for the fruitcake that traveled the farthest to attend, the fruitcake with the most fruits and nuts and the entry that best fits with the festivalâ€™s theme. Photo by Mike Gervais
With the advent of the holiday season comes the approach of the internationally acclaimed Independence Fruitcake Festival.
In addition to hosting and showcasing dozens of homemade fruitcakes and eggnog selections, organizers have added a new spin to this yearâ€™s event, scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19 in the American Legion Hall in Independence.
Complementing the 2010 theme, â€śAmericaâ€™s Got Fruitcakeâ€ť theme, organizers are inviting all Fruitcake Festival attendees to showcase their talents.
â€śPeople are funny, and this is an opportunity for the festival to involve everyone else,â€ť said Event Co-Founder Mary Roper. â€śPeople who love fruitcake may have more talent than the average Joe because theyâ€™re quirkier.â€ť
Roper said that Independence, throughout the 1990s, had regular talent shows hosted by a local resident. Over the years, those shows gained in popularity throughout the county, playing host to various musical acts, juggling and much more.
After a more than 10-year hiatus, Roper said she hopes to see a variety of acts at this yearâ€™s Fruitcake Festival.
â€śThe community really supported those talent shows, and you never know whatâ€™s going to appear,â€ť Roper said. â€śItâ€™s not just limited to singing and dancing.â€ť
Depending on the turn-out, organizers are considering making the talent show a regular part of the annual, internationally acclaimed Fruitcake Festival.
â€śWeâ€™ll see how it goes, we may do it next year too,â€ť Roper said. â€śIâ€™m expecting it to be a lot of fun.â€ť
But, no matter who attends and what acts show up for the talent show, the main focus of the night is, of course, the fruitcake.
Admission to the event is either homemade or store-bought fruitcake and eggnog â€“ to ensure thereâ€™s plenty for everybody.
Once again, Superior Court Judges Brian Lamb and Dean Stout have been invited to judge the fruitcake entries.
If Stout and Lamb agree to judge again, they will be looking for the fruitcake that traveled the farthest to attend the event, which has the most solids (fruits and nuts) and the fruitcake that best fits with this yearâ€™s theme of â€śAmericaâ€™s Got Fruitcakes.â€ť
Organizers will also break out their historic fruitcake, which has made an appearance at all six of the annual events.
Each year, the flagship fruitcake is taken from its â€ścivil defenseâ€ť container in Roperâ€™s basement to make an appearance at the festival, where Fruitcake King Jon Klusmire will choose a lucky reveler for a taste test, to prove the fruitcake has not only survived the year, but improved in flavor.
Also scheduled to make an appearance this year are the Independence Fruit and Nut Pickers, a homegrown group of musicians that turn out each year to perform live Christmas classics and original tunes.
Over the past six years, Independenceâ€™s quirky holiday event has made international headlines, with features on Canadaâ€™s and Americaâ€™s National Public Radio, and shout-outs from Martha Stewart and Country Living Magazine.
Currently, organizers are looking for support from community members as they prepare for the festival. Any residents with a knack for decorating, or who have disco balls or any other decorations that fit with the â€śAmericaâ€™s Got Fruitcakeâ€ť theme, are asked to call Nancy Masters at (760) 878-2053.