This fall, the age-old practice of celebrating the harvest season gets a new twist, as amateur chefs prepare for a community-wide cooking competition focused on local foods. In partnership with the Town of Abingdon, the Abingdon Farmers Market will host a Country Roads Cook-Off on October 6th from 3-6 p.m. during the Crooked Road Music Festival at Latture Field. Ten teams of 1-3 cooks will create meals of their choice using primarily locally-sourced ingredients, all prepared onsite during an one-hour competition that market manager Sara Cardinale envisions as “a really exciting event for spectators and contestants.” Three professional chefs will serve as judges, selecting one of the contest’s two winners; a “people’s choice” vote by attendees will determine the other winner.
The Country Roads Cook-Off is a concept spearheaded by the West Virginia-based Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia, which aims to protect agricultural and environmental interests across the region. The collaborative has seen enthusiasm for the cook-offs grow over the past several years as communities have recognized an opportunity to highlight the availability of healthy and flavorful food from local sources. “[The cook-offs] have brought more people to the market,” said the organization’s founder, Allen D. Arnold. “They shine the spotlight on our local farm products and engage peoples’ interest in those products’ importance—both for good nutrition as well as for the local economy.”
The event will be held in conjunction with Abingdon’s first Crooked Road Music Festival. “It will be great to have a whole day of events with something to offer everyone,” said Cardinale. “It’s an opportunity to spotlight our cultural heritage, including music and food. And I’m excited to see what the contestants come up with—this is a great time of year to make really interesting meals with local foods.”
Entries to compete in the cook-off will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Audience members are invited to arrive at 3:00, with the competition taking place from 3:30 to 4:30, followed by tasting, judging, and an awards ceremony.
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