DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Creamy white frosting covered some of their chins Saturday and their fingers were coated with chocolate, but the mess didn’t bother participants of the inaugural Whoopie Pie Festival.
The weekend event sponsored by Center Theater was declared a sweet and creamy success. A baker’s dozen of cooks shared their favorite pies — featuring just about every possible combination of creamy filling smooshed between two round cakes — with about 500 people.
“I’m thrilled!” Patrick Myers, the festival’s organizer, said Saturday. The weather cooperated, cooks from throughout the state entered their whoopie pies for the judging and hundreds of people turned out, he said. He figured the state needed to celebrate the Maine whoopie pie, a sweet-cake that can be found on counters in nearly every bakery, as well as grocery and convenience stores.
It has been such a Maine staple that Amos Orcutt, president and chief executive officer of the University of Maine Foundation, one of Saturday’s judges, is working to make the delectable sweet-cake the state’s official dessert.
On Saturday, there were cakes and fillings that incorporated molasses, pumpkin, blueberries, coffee brandy, chocolate chips, Chambord (raspberry liqueur), espresso coffee, rum, and cointreau and fresh orange zest.
The bakers who submitted the sweet tooth’s delights included Carol Ford and Karen Haase of Cranberry Island Kitchen of Cumberland, who have been featured on the Martha Stewart Show; Donna Carrigan of Walpole and Lana Webb of Buck’s Harbor with their Wezeola’s Wackie Whoopies; Betty Reez of WoopieZ, Freeport’s Gourmet Whoopie; Stutzman Farms of Sangerville; Heather Fowler of Heather’s Whoopie Pies of Lamoine; and Governor’s Restaurant.
The first-place winners were: Most Original Whoopie Pie, Betty Reez for her Needham Whoopie Pie; Best Flavored, Sandee Washburn of Dover-Foxcroft; and Best Traditional Whoopie Pie, the Piscataquis Times.
The winner of the People’s Choice award was Governor’s Restaurant of Old Town.
Carrigan, whose day job is designing kitchens, said she loves making whoopie pies. She said she prepared 128 whoopie pies for the event and those pies were parceled out in small pieces for visitors to taste.
“I just thought this would be a fun thing to do,” she said.
Reez said it was fun to watch people take their first bite and to see their facial reaction.
That reaction for Polly Carey was a wide smile.
“The people are so very friendly, and of course, the whoopie pies are excellent,” the Bangor woman said.
Carey and her daughter, Diane Carey Stanchfield, said they saw a BDN article about the event and decided to attend the festival. They both sought out Myers and told them how pleased they were to be part of the festival.
The festival also offered games for children sponsored by the Piscataquis Regional YMCA and a barbecue sponsored by the Shiretown Homecoming Committee.
Dover-Foxcroft Town Manager Jack Clukey, who helped to man the latter booth, said Saturday there was quite a run on milk and drinks to help wash down the pies.
Myers said he is already thinking ahead to next year’s festival that will be held June 26, 2010.
“We’ll be making some changes and adding a lot to it for next year,” he said. “Personally, I want to see the World’s Largest Whoopie Pie made right here in Piscataquis County.”
The proceeds from the festival will help the Center Theatre’s endowment campaign. The theater has a goal of raising $25,000 this year to qualify for a $25,000 match from the Maine Community Foundation.