Biggest Rhubarb Festival ever
The weather was nearly perfect for Aledo's Rhubarb Festival this year and record crowds turned out to enjoy it.
The Aledo Fire Department's pancake breakfast drew a huge crowd to the new fire station. People started lining up at 6:30 a.m. and held constant past the 10 a.m. posted closing time.
Aledo Fire Chief Dennis Litwiler said, "We did very well. We've been very busy since we opened at 6 a.m. I m sure this is the largest crowd we have ever had. It was a good crowd at a good location. We had a lot more walk in traffic than in the past. Usually it starts to slow down at 9:30 a.m."
Litwiler noted that this was the first year the Viola Fire Department had assisted the Aledo department in making pancakes. "We do a lot of things together and this year they volunteered to help us make pancakes."
Litwiler said the money raised at the breakfast would help to fund department projects such as the memorial on the east side of the new building.
Doug Perkins the General Manager at Oakview Country Club was the judge at the Rhubarb Recipe contest. The contest was broken up into two levels. There were seven pies presented at the event and 12 other Rhubarb dishes.
While Perkins admitted that he wasn't a big fan of rhubarb he said every dish was delicious.
The two that stood out were a baklava by Stephanie Brennan and a pie by Melissa Johnson with the baklava standing out
Perkins had a hard time choosing between the top two pies. The second place pie looked perfect but the winner had the perfect crust.
"The baklava is out of this world," said Perkins. "The scones were wonderful and the coffee cake I could eat any morning when I woke up."
Following Brennan's baklava were the rhubarb scones by Jacque Ciavatta, second and the rhubarb crisp coffee cake by Susan Childs.
Following Johnson's first place pie was a rhubarb pie by Dawn Huffstutler, second and rhubarb strawberry pie by Bettie Monts.
Big Leaf Contest
Eight year old Carson Kellett's entry into the big leaf contest won him first place amongst the 11 entries. His leaf was 32 1/4 inches. The leaf came off of a seven year old plant and received a lot of cattle manure.
Mile Etheridge won the 16 MB iPod Touch given away during the Alley Art Contest.
Leo Kelly, an artist from Bettendorf was appearing at his first ever Rhubarb Festival. Kelly sketched caricatures of people during the day. Kelly said he had a steady stream of customers during the day. Kelly studied art at Marycrest and works out of his home in Bettendorf. He plans to work several more festivals this summer. His work can be seen at(theleokelly.com)
Jim Croegaert of Annawan said this was his fifth year as a vendor at the festival. "This is the most people we have ever seen. Croegaert and wife were selling his birdhouses as well as other things at their booth on the courtyard square. Croegaert said the houses take him three or four hours to make plus the painting. "It's a hobby that got out of hand, said Croegaert. Croegaert will also appear at festivals in Cambridge and Galva later this year.
Sam Whan and Rebekah Clark won the Rhubarb Run. Camden Whitenack and Kaylie Barker won the one mile fun run.