Elmira will soon be home to a celebration of all things butter tart.
Butter tart bakers from across the province will be gathering to share their goopy wares, and compete for the title of ‘Best Butter Tart,’ while at the same time raising funds for Woolwich Community Services. It’s called the For the Love of Buttertarts Festival.
Jackie Psutka, who is organizing the event, has her own idea of the perfect tart.
“Oh, I like a flaky crust,” she said. “And it has to be drippy. So it’s gotta drip down your arm when you bite into it.”
Psutka said she attended a butter tart festival in Midland a few years ago and wanted to bring a similar festival closer to home. Since she organizes craft shows across Ontario, she had the skills to make it happen.
The first butter tart festival she organized was in Kitchener, just before the pandemic in 2019. Now coming out of the pandemic, she feels Elmira is the perfect spot to continue the flaky festivities.
“I thought that Elmira would be the perfect spot to have a festival of this type, just because it’s a lovely community and I think that people are always happy to come out and support these sort of things. I used to live in Elmira, so it kind of feels like my home still.”
The festival will gather 30 butter tart bakers from across the province and locally. There will also be a vendors’ market of about 50 vendors, live music, food trucks, a beer garden and tent with Rural Roots and Murphy’s Law, who will be selling butter tart-flavoured moonshine.
Every ticket bought in advance will also be entered into a contest to win a six-pack of butter tarts every month for a year.
The best butter tart contest will be judged by a panel via taste testing. The winner will go home with a trophy.
The festival will take place inside the Woolwich Memorial Centre on July 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost to enter is $6 for adults, while kids 12 and under are free.
A portion of the proceeds from each entrance ticket will be donated to Woolwich Community Services, says Psutka.
“We always like to pick a charitable partner. So we picked WCS for this one because we find that they’re an awesome resource for the area.”
Among the bakers contesting for the trophy is Fran Adsett, owner of Frannie’s Restaurant and Bakery in Breslau. She will be selling her maple bacon butter tart sundae, as well as her maple bacon butter tarts.
She will also be supplying butter tarts for a year to the winner of the contest.
Adsett makes all her baking herself, and her butter tart recipe she created herself, playing around in the kitchen.
What, for Adsett, is the trickiest part of making the perfect butter tart?
“I think that your hardest thing is making sure that you get your pastry right. Your pastry has to be just right and especially when you’re not using a big mixer and you’re doing it by hand. It’s a lot of pie dough,” she said. The other tricky part for Adsett is balancing running her restaurant with carving out the time to make thousands of tarts.
“My staff all have to be on-point so that I’m not having to help them here and help them there. Because I’m literally baking for 20, 22 hours a day when I am in butter tart mode. And I do that for a full-on week – I do my part and then I die,” she laughed.
She says she has three solid weekends selling butter tarts at various festivals and events in a row, which takes her away from working in the restaurant for three weeks.
“I’ve got great staff. Without my staff at the restaurant, I couldn’t pull it off because they have to pull the weight of the restaurant,” she said.
Adsett has multiple kinds of butter tarts on her roster including salted caramel, Reese’s Pieces, plain, pecan raisin and maple bacon. She notes she introduced her maple bacon butter tart at the Paris Butter Tart Festival, where she baked about 2,000 dozen and sold out.
“I’m very fortunate for the community’s love and support. And that’s where the success of my business has been – without the community and the support of my community, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she said.
Tickets can be bought ahead of time through the Eventbrite website, or at the door. For more information email email@example.com.
“It’s just a great way for people to get out, maybe meet some new people, meet up with old friends, it’s a great way to support WCS. It’s just a fun family activity, I think,” said Psutka.