No, it's not as sweet as a blueberry, or as juicy as a strawberry, but nonetheless, choke cherries will be celebrated this Saturday, Aug. 5, in Pequot Lakes.
It's the 10th Annual Choke Cherry Festival! That's right, Pequot Lakes is Minnesota's Choke Cherry Capital! The all-day festival will include a culinary contest, kids games, vendor fair, pit-spitting contest, beer garden and fantastic food (including the "almost-famous" Shish-ka-bobbers)!
If you're wondering what a choke cherry is, we'll tell you: it's a berry that grows on wild trees in the Whitefish Area. While birds love the fruit, it's not a popular one in its raw form. Choke cherries have a very specific taste, known for being astringent and tasting rather dry and sandy.
But even though they're unpopular raw, they can really shine when cooked, as the dry taste leaves the berry while a pleasant tart, fruity flavor remains (though some sugar definitely helps). We can tell you that a good choke cherry jam can't be beat!
If you'd like to participate in the culinary competition, simply bring your finished dish to the Trailside Park in Pequot Lakes on the morning of the festival by 10 a.m. There is only one rule: choke cherries must be used in the recipe. The contest will include several categories, and contestants can submit an entry in more than one category.
Perhaps one of the most popular parts of the festival is the pit spitting contest, which is made extra interesting because you'll have to eat the raw choke cherry to get to the pit! The current spit-distance record is somewhere around 34 feet... think you can beat it?
The festival is also advertising its backseat driver game, another favorite from years past. You and your partner will have to work together to drive a tractor through the course. The catch? The driver is blindfolded! Fastest time and fewest mistakes will win the prize.
This year the festival will include a celebration of the Pequot Lakes Fire Department, which is celebrating 100 years! Live music will begin at 6 p.m. with Muddy Waters Band and the Wyld Rice Band.
Come celebrate nature's forgotten fruit, the choke cherry! The Choke Cherry Festival will promise fun games, great food, grooving music and fantastic shopping.