The Strolling of the Heifers (plus an award-winning blueberry bread recipe!)
Back in 2001, before “locavore” was a buzzword, Vermont neighbors Dwight Miller*, a farmer, and Orly Munzing, an educational consultant, shared a passing conversation about the number of small farms in their area that were either going out of business or at risk of doing so. What could they do to bring attention to the problem?
Orly had recently traveled to Pamplona, Spain, site of the annual Running of the Bulls festival, and the thought occurred to her: What about a kinder, gentler sort of festival that would inspire the community to rally around local farmers? Thus was born the 2002 Strolling of the Heifers, a parade of female calves up Main Street in Brattleboro that ended in an outdoor fair where people could connect with the farmers who fed them, sample local foods, and celebrate. The popularity of the event led not just to an expanded parade and festival, but to the creation of a year-round organization that now also sponsors a business plan competition for farmers, a microloan program, educational grants, and more. And the Strolling of the Heifers has morphed into a weekend-long celebration of local eating.
One of the highlights of the event, slated this year for the weekend of June 7, 8, and 9, is a recipe contest for both pro and amateur cooks. Organizers choose a theme (last year: bread, this year: quiche), entrants submit recipes in advance of the festival, finalists are chosen, and those folks go on to compete in the final judging which takes place the night before the parade.
Last year’s Grand Prize winner was Jean Sarnie of West Halifax, Vermont for her Dante’s Blueberry Quick Bread.
Dante’s Blueberry Quick Bread
- 2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose King Arthur Flour
- 3 teaspoons Baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 ½ Tablespoons Butter
- ¾ Cup Sugar
- 1 Organic egg from Pete & Gerry’s
- 1 Cup Sour cream
- ½ Cup Milk
- 1 Tablespoon Honey from the Live Wire Farm in Jacksonville, Vt.
- 1 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia extract from King Arthur Flour Co.
- 1 ½ Cups Blueberries (We pick ours at a friend’s yard in Halifax)
- Sugar and Cinnamon mixture for top (I use Demerara sugar from King Arthur)
If you want to enter this year’s quiche context, your recipe must be submitted no later than midnight, Friday, May 17. Visit www.strollingoftheheifers.com for more information.
* Many know the late Dwight Miller as the beloved orchardist and seventh-generation farmer who made Dwight Miller & Sons Orchard in Dummerston, Vermont a favorite destination during peach and apple season. He died at the age of 84 in 2008 and is remembered fondly as one of the founders of the Strolling of the Heifers. His farm continues on, now run by the eighth generation of Millers.