Independence is taking its famed holiday celebration theme south of the border this year.
The county seat’s annual ode to a questionable Yuletide treat and the people who love it is returning to the spotlight in 2012 as the Fiesta de Fruitcake Independence Fruitcake Festival. The soiree is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 in the American Legion Hall on Edwards Street (U.S. 395).
Everyone is invited to come out to the eighth and possibly final installment of the Independence Fruitcake Festival.
Those planning to attend are asked to bring a fruitcake or eggnog – both leaded (with alcohol) and unleaded (without) – to share as their entry fee. Homemade versions of fruitcake and eggnog are preferred, and the eggnog can be transported in a milk jug.
“We have refrigeration on-site,” noted event organizer Nancy Masters. “The eggnog is always served in elegant punch cups at the bar. It is worth the trip to Independence just for that fact alone.”
Attendees are also welcome to wear a costume in keeping with the Fiesta de Fruitcake theme so they can participate in the first-ever Fruitcake Festival costume contest.
“This is not required,” Masters said, “but in the past we have found that a good many people like to dress up more than just their fruitcakes.”
Each fruitcake will be judged by an “expert panel” and the winners will receive prizes befitting the honor of recognition at the internationally acclaimed event, according to Masters.
“There are many possibilities with this year’s theme for creating a winning fruitcake,” said Masters. “Categories include Oldest, Traveled the Farthest, Best of Theme, Most Solids and Judges’ Award. Our fruitcake judges employ mechanical, empirical and philosophical techniques to select winning fruitcakes in those categories. We have prizes, but we can’t tell you what they are because they’re so special.”
Once judging is completed, all the fruitcakes will be made available for attendees to sample.
In addition to fruitcake and eggnog tasting and the costume contest, the Independence Fruitcake Festival boasts live music, dance instruction appropriate for the theme and, new this year, a taco stand.
“People will be able to get a taco plate for I think $5, so that will help settle the fruitcake,” Masters said. “You know, you’ve got to separate the fruitcake and the eggnog.”
Fruitcake lovers will also have an opportunity to rub elbows with fruitcake royalty.
“Last year King Jon (Klusmire, who held the throne since the festival’s inception) was deposed. I think he willingly ceded his crown to new King Brian Kosters,” Masters said.
As King, Kosters will be an unofficial master of ceremonies and have the privilege of selecting an audience member to taste the archival fruitcake, a holiday dessert that has been a part of the event since its inception and is brought out once a year for the event.
The Independence Fruitcake Festival has generated national and international attention for its quirky, off-the-wall themes and small-town charm. It has been highlighted in Country Living Magazine in previous years, and leading up to the 2012 event, it received coverage in the Washington Times and Country Woman Magazine.
“I explained to the Washington Times that we are a town of 500 people, so for fun we put on parties that are a little bit whacky,” Masters said.
Looking ahead, Masters said event organizers are hoping to find younger fruitcake fans who are interested in helping to organize and plan future events.
“We are threatening to make this the last Fruitcake Festival. It may be your last chance to attend this internationally acclaimed event,” Masters said. “We need young people … who love fruitcake to be active. It’s a lot of work to plan, and we want to transition the reins of fruitcake power.”
Anyone who is interested in getting involved in the Fruitcake Festival is invited to attend this year and see what the event is all about.
Also, organizers will be at the American Legion Hall throughout the preceding week decorating and preparing for the festival.