By Wendy Wang and Leo Yin
The term "blueberries" has become more than simply "blueberries" at the Wild Blueberry Festival at the Evergreen Brick Works. There are low bush and high bush blueberries, either wild or conventional, each unique in flavour and size. The festival started in August 2009, in the same place as it is today. It is a very popular festival! Catherine Gerson, the farmer's market coordinator, agreed.
"Over 3,000 people come to this festival every year," she said.
There are two ways to harvest blueberries: by hand, or by shaking the bush to make them fall onto mats. Blueberries picked by hand are quite expensive since they take a long time to harvest. You have to individually pick every blueberry. One basket can carry up to 100 blueberries. It takes about 1- 2 hours to fill up one basket. At the festival, we got to taste those hand-picked berries!
"It's a wonderful setup. I enjoyed tasting different things made with blueberries, the pies in particular," Debra, a visitor, said.
There was in fact a blueberry pie bake-off between four lucky bakers who were invited by the festival organizer, Marina Queirolo. The pie bake-off is held during the festival every year because August is the wild blueberry harvest season. Each baker made many individual pies so everyone could get a taste. By buying a $5 ballot, a visitor could sample each baker's pie and vote for their favourite. Too bad Queirolo wasn't allowed to vote for her favourite pie; only visitors and judges could. It was such a popular event that by the time Voice K went to get a taste, the pies were sold out, and the festival had been going on for only less than two hours! However, we did get to chat with one of the contestants. Farzam Fallah was his name.
Fallah really loves cooking and baking, and he discovered his passion when he was fifteen years old. His all-time favourite thing to make is mousse, especially chocolate mousse cake. The pie that he submitted for this contest was topped with lemon meringue. Fallah's pie was deemed delicious, and won the contest! He gave Voice K his advice for pie baking.
"Don't overwork the dough," he said with a knowing smile.
"I have been in the Toronto pie business for 25 years now, and I can say my favourite way to eat blueberries is in the form of a pie," Beaver explained. "Pie judging is fun, we get to taste pies!"
Beaver says pies are judged by their looks and taste. The pastry and filling are important.
"The pastry should be crisp and flaky while the filling should be juicy but not too sweet. I think fruit pies should always be served warm."
However, there is more to this festival than blueberry pies. There is also a kids' garden where you can see various plants and vegetables, and even water them! In the front, there was a big tin tub filled with water, buckets, and watering cans. There were a lot of flowers to water. When the watering can was empty, visitors could refill and continue to water the flowers. A few giant watering cans took about four normal sized ones to refill! The big ones lasted for about 12-16 plants, but it depended on the size of the plant and how much water the plant consumed. In the tub, there was also a pipe-like mechanism that held water to refill a watering can, but it can take 10 scoops of water to refill a can. If the watering can is big, it takes about 15-30 scoops! Whew! It was even more tiring than it sounds.
We met Albert Tu, who was invited by his friends to come to the festival. We asked him if he liked the festival, and he said yes, but preferred the garden.
"I really like wild blueberries, so this was a nice experience," Tu said. "I also really like pies, but I'll have to say the sunflowers from the garden were my favourite part.”
A lot of effort was put in to make this festival happen, and we could tell it was a success by the smiles on peoples' faces. When we passed by Gerson again, she said it was a fun time for everyone.
"The hardest part of setting up the festival is to make sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time. If people don't enjoy the festival, they would not think of coming back next year," she explained. "The festival organizer feels proud because the festival brings in a lot of people every year. Everyone had a lot of fun!"
Hi! My name is Wendy Wang. I am 14 years old and I live in Mississauga, Ontario. Writing is my passion, whether it's stories, poems, or articles. In my spare time I also love reading, drawing, swimming, and hanging out with my friends at Edenwood Middle School. To me, life is an adventure so I never miss a chance to try new things and meet new people. It has been so much fun participating in the creation of this magazine, so I hope you enjoy it!
Hi, my name is Leo Yin and I am one of the journalists in Voice K. I am 10 years old and I am in grade 5. I live in Mississauga Ontario. I like to play sports, such as ice hockey, basketball, badminton, swimming, biking etc. l go to Credit Valley Public School. My favorite subject is math and l also really enjoy playing piano and singing. My favorite piano peace is Fur Elise. So yeah. That's pretty much all you need to know about me. See ya!