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More than 60,000 people expected at Midland Butter Tart Festival

Last year's best-in-show champ looks to defend her title but is keeping specifics about her tasty entry in the wild category secret for now
Rachel Smith and Jean Parker, from The Baker Sisters on the Food Network, were two of the Butter Tart Festival’s celebrity judges in 2022 and they will be back this year.

Pastry may be in short supply as bakers across the province hustle to prepare 200,000 butter tarts for the crowds expected to invade Midland Saturday for the ninth Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival.

Amateur baker Rachelle Filsinger, of Owen Sound, is defending her 'Best in Show' title. 

“I’m feeling a little nervous but for the most part I’m confident,” she said.

Her pecan tart won best traditional tart in the amateur category before beating professional bakers for the overall title.

“I think it was because of my crust. It’s very flaky and it just melts in your mouth.” 

But, of course, judging is also based on the filling.

“Mine is not overly sweet," she explained.

To prepare for battle, Filsinger has adopted a strategy.

“I’ve come up with a bunch of ideas. Family and friends are my taste testers for five different styles. Two were close, but the leader is what I’m entering.”

What type of wild tart would that be?

“I’m going to keep that a secret.”

This year’s contest is sponsored by the Egg Farmers of Ontario. There are four categories to the contest: amateur traditional and wild style and professional traditional and wild style. There is a cash prize of $500 for best in show, $500 for first, $250 for second and $100 for third in each category.

Celebrities, chefs and food bloggers have been enlisted to judge the contest at the Midland Cultural Centre.

Karen Mealing, manager of culture and community for the Town of Midland, said some people judge one time and others return for multiple years.

“Not everyone can taste 20 butter tarts in two hours,” she said.

Celebrity judges this year include YouTube comedian Brittlestar (Stewart Reynolds), actor Sugith Varughese, from Kim’s Convenience, Dan Kelly, CEO of the Canadian Federation for Independent Business, and returning judges Jean Parker and Rachel Smith from Food Network Canada’s The Baker Sisters.

The Maid’s Cottage bakers from Newmarket won both professional categories last year with a traditional pecan tart and a wild style white chocolate cheesecake tart. They will be back this year.

“I tasted the first-place winners in all four categories and I did concur with the judges’ choices,” said Mealing. “It’s a perk of the job.”

The traditional tart contest starts at 10 a.m. The wild style contest is at 1 p.m. Judging of Best in Show is at 3:15 p.m. and winners are announced at 3:30.

The festival takes part in downtown Midland from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with music continuing into the evening.

As more than 60,000 people are expected at the event, there is a shuttle bus service and bike lock service. The Faris Team is sponsoring the shuttle service with parking at 1000 Wye Valley Rd. on Highway 12 and Georgian Bay District Secondary School at 925 Hugel Ave., running from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Cyclists can enjoy a free bike valet along the waterfront Trans Canada Trail, courtesy of Cycle Simcoe.

Midland Transit will be running at no cost. There is also free parking in municipal lots and side streets with the exception of the Midland Harbour lot.

For detailed information of vendors and entertainment go to the event website.

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Gisele Winton Sarvis

About the Author: Gisele Winton Sarvis

Gisele Winton Sarvis is an award winning journalist and photographer who has focused on telling the stories of the people of Simcoe County for more than 25 years
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