Bowmanville event kicks off butter tart festival season in Ontario

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Published April 26, 2022 at 12:00 pm

There is something about the ooey-gooey goodness of a home-made butter tart that brings people to butter tart festivals like Winnie-the-Pooh to the honey jar.

Maybe it’s that sticky deliciousness of the perfect butter tart? Maybe it’s the Canadiana aspect of our national treasure? Or maybe it’s just the fact that you can walk into a butter tart festival and buy as many tarts as you want and even eat them right there on the spot and no one will be the wiser?

Wait, scratch that last part. I may have said too much.

Anyway, the point is, butter tarts are extremely popular here in Ontario. We even have a Butter Tart Trail that people actually conduct their holidays around and when the butter tart festival season begins, aficionados take notice.

On Saturday, they took notice in Bowmanville at the Bowmanville Butter Tart Festival. Festival season is now officially underway.

Held at the Garnett Rickard Recreation Complex, the festival featured about 35 vendors, with a dozen devoted to the small pastry tart highly regarded as one of Canada’s quintessential treats. There were also other food vendors, such as Holy Cannoli, as well as retailers selling everything from crafts and clothing to maple syrup.

But it’s the butter tarts that brought in the crowds and it is the butter tarts who were the stars of the show.

Some fans like their tarts firm, others runny. Some purists insist they must be plain, while others claim raisins or pecans made the perfect tart. Others still take the exotic route, with fillings ranging from peanut butter and jam to lemon, pistachio cream and various berries.

To each their own, I say (raisins for the win) but all are delicious. If it’s a sweet treat you’re after, you really can’t go wrong at a butter tart festival.

The Bowmanville event was put on by Gotta Luv Butter Tarts and organizers Christine Nelson and Helen Prucha said they were very happy with the turnout.

“It went exceptionally well. There was a lot of pent-up demand out there,” said Nelson, who added that even the non-butter tart food vendors did great business at the show. “Even Holy Cannoli sold out. He couldn’t believe it.”

Nelson said she was also impressed by the generosity of the butter tart fans. Admission was free to the festival, but people were encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item and they brought so many the volunteers “had to make two trips to the local food bank.”

Nelson said a few of the marketplace vendors were no-shows because of COVID-19 testing but all the butter tart vendors were there and it was Queen of Tarts – who came all the way from Sault Ste. Marie – who took home the top prize for best overall butter tart, as well as a blue ribbon for Best Crust.

Other winners included Ten of Tarts (Shelburne) for Best Filling and Best Non-Traditional Tart; and Krumb’s Breadery & Stuff (Newcastle) for Best Presentation.

I never got to sample them all and in fact completely missed one of my favourites from past festivals in Carla’s Cookie Box (Woodbridge), but my top two tarts of the day were a Peanut Butter and Jam tart from Paradise Tarts in Stirling (north of Belleville) and a Pistachio Cream tart from Omi’s Sweet n Treats in Toronto.

The fan favourite – judging by the long lineups at the booth when I walked into the arena – was Doo Doo’s Bakery out of Bailieboro on Rice Lake but I never got a chance to sample their wares. (See ‘long line-up.’)

The only real downside to the event for me, besides the after effects of the sugar rush that happened later, was that I never found a Raisin Butter Tart – the proper Butter Tart in my humble opinion – that ‘spoke to me.’

But on the brightside, I have been invited to be a judge at the Pickering Butter Tart Festival this fall. I bet I find a raisin butter tart that speaks to me then.

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