Gilfeather turnips not only are the official state vegetable, they also take center stage at Gilfeather Turnip Day in Wardsboro.
Dorothy Grover-Read/Commons file photo
Gilfeather turnips not only are the official state vegetable, they also take center stage at Gilfeather Turnip Day in Wardsboro.

Gilfeather Turnip Day is Oct. 21

WARDSBORO — Come celebrate Vermont's state vegetable at Gilfeather Turnip Day on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The festival, now in its 21st year, raises funds for the Trustees of the Wardsboro Library to support ongoing library programs. It is their largest community fundraising event.

Tents big and small set up on Main Street will be filled with craft and farmers' market vendors and the turnip cart will be filled with multiple bushels of freshly dug turnips. Turnips will be sold by the pound, along with Gilfeather seed packets. The Trustees of the Wardsboro Library are also sponsoring games behind the library throughout the day to entertain the younger set. This free event takes place rain, snow, or shine.

Parking is $5 to benefit Boy Scout Troop 461. The vendor tent supports the Wardsboro Elementary School Group.

The annual turnip contest is free to enter. Contestants may register Gilfeather turnips in one or more categories from 10 a.m. to noon upstairs in the Town Hall. Categories are: largest grown in Wardsboro, largest grown outside Wardsboro, best turnip name, and best strange and funny turnip.

The largest turnip, measured by total weight with greens, will be awarded grand champion of the festival. Winners are announced and ribbons awarded immediately after the judging. All children age 12 and younger who enter a turnip will receive an honorable-mention award ribbon.

The Turnip Soup Cart outside Town Hall serves homemade turnip doughnuts and coffee beginning at 10 a.m., followed by Gilfeather turnip soup for takeout beginning at 11 a.m. Inside Town Hall, The Turnip Café opens for turnip lunch samplings at 11 a.m. Local cooks peel, slice, and shred the tubers to make the creamy Gilfeather turnip dishes, served until the food runs out.

Wardsboro's own strolling troubadour, Jimmy Knapp, loves to serenade visitors throughout the festival with his original Gilfeather turnip ballads and many more of his original guitar compositions. The Barnstormerz (Marvin Bentley and Ned Phoenix) will perform outside the entrance to the Town Office on Main Street.

At 1:30 p.m., the drawing for the Wardsboro Public Library's "Best Raffle Ever" takes place at Town Hall. This year's prize is a Generac 6500 portable generator, generously sponsored by WW Building Supply. Details are available at the library's website or at the festival until the drawing. Raffle tickets, for sale at the Festival, are $10 each or 6 for $50. The winner need not be present at the drawing.

The Gilfeather turnip, designated the Vermont state vegetable in 2016, has the added distinction of being the only turnip included in Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste, a catalog comprised of only the best-tasting endangered foods.

Festival organizers say Wardsboro farmer John Gilfeather could never have imagined that one day, his town and the state of Vermont would celebrate and honor his humble tuber that he first propagated in the early 1900s.

This Special section item was submitted to The Commons.

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