For the past 10 years, May has been the big “run up” of our Annual Rhubarb Festival. As you know, the tag line for the annual CVUUS Rhubarb Festival has long been “food, fellowship, and fun” – but with social distancing part of our “new normal” for the next while, we decided on a “pies only” event on Sat., May 30 from 10:00am – noon – which Lise Anderson headed up.  So, to quote Brett Millier, for this May, “it was all about the pies.”

With imagination and radical love, we stepped up to remake a fundraiser that yielded 134 pies (gulp) and gross proceeds of $3000 with $1000 shared with HOPE! Thanks for making and baking, picking and chopping, folding and boxing, shopping and bagging, and selling!  Your flexibility, patience, adherence to protocols, made this unusual rhubarb event happen. Special thanks to Mary Hadley for managing inventory and Michele Lowy for making extra (lots extra).

If you want to bake more, Mary H. has a good amount of frozen rhubarb still. Let’s hope we can all be together in the kitchen next year, Lise Anderson

Rhubarb Pie with Crust options from two Helens CVUUS 2020

Mary Hadley received this email from one of our pie buyers: MARY, THAT PIE IS EXQUISITE!! Possibly the best I have ever had, maybe even better than mine… And I teach people how to bake for a living!! Thank you so much! Lisa Fennimore, BAHRM, NECI Chef Instructor, Stafford Technical Center

Carol Harden commented: I add my congratulations and thanks to the organizers and pie-makers!  A fun aspect of making pies was that I found myself visualizing former pie bees — watching Ann Ross roll out dough in perfect circles, admiring Ann Webster’s outstanding dough-making prowess, and noting Brett’s confidence in the cooking times.  It was a nice connection.

Becky Strum shared: Thanks to all who organized and contributed — what a terrific success.  I am a huge fan of the Rhubarb Festival. I’ve loved being a part of a pie bee the past three years and was glad I was able to use my rhubarb to make pies this year by myself — miss you all and hope next year to be together again!

Johanna Nichols added: Congratulations to everyone! I think this was a marvelous fundraiser. Clearly, we must have pie! Brett and I held pie bees, but Michele, I think you are

Bonnie Povolny expressed: In a world where the news in my inbox each day brings tears to my eyes, this email is like a drink of mountain stream water during a long hot hike. It refreshes and nourishes and gives me hope to remember that in a beautiful town in Vermont, there are people who bake rhubarb pies, feed the hungry, and speak for the earth. Many thanks for all that you do, CVUUS! With much love.

Congratulations to our ‘Pie-Ladies’!!!!!!!! But where are the men. Just curious. I don’t eat Rhubarb Pies because I’ve never developed a taste for them and there’s too much ‘real sugar’ for a diabetic. But, nevertheless, I share your joy and enthusiasm. (I’m jealous because I wish there were a sweet potato pie festival!!!!! That’s my southern upbringing!!!) I know we couldn’t be together, but I hope that someday when you guys are busy in the Ann Ross Kitchen, we’ll have the ‘antiques & Leftovers section of this distinctive festival!!!!! Hey, Guys I’ll go anywhere to look at other people’s junk. So think about that part. Again, you should ALL be proud of the results of  your hard work.(BTW I feel that way about my memoir which I’m sure by now you know I finally got it published!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)Well, good luck with getting rid of the rest of those rhubarbs. MuchLove, Francois DivaMan Scarborough Officer Clemmons,Etc.!!!!!!

Fall Follow-Up

If folks are interested in a Rhubarb Festival event in the fall, please let Mary Hadley know what parts of a traditional Rhubarb Festival would make sense in the fall season and if you’re interested in planning such an event – or perhaps a different event – as this is a critical part of our non-pledge fundraising for CVUUS and has also provided funding to HOPE in past years.  Click here for interesting RF history and a summary of last year’s festival.

Rhubarb Festival History

Before 2010 CVUUS members Johanna Nichols and Ann Ross had discussed in passing the fun of hosting a Rhubarb Festival for the Middlebury community. By early 2010 Ann organized a small group of members who planned an event for the Saturday between  college graduation and college reunion weekends. At that time CVUUS had a new sanctuary but not much in the way of kitchen space, just a coffee preparation area in the new building and a small, house-size kitchen in the nearby administrative space, known as Fenn House. The planning group brainstormed activities that our membership could manage in those spaces, and the first festival debuted on June 5th of that year.

The production of rhubarb-based foods has been the unifying element of the event. Always pies, lots of pies. In 2018 about 100 pies were sold as well as other rhubarb treats. At some festivals, there was coffee and pie on offer. That developed into a café lunch with homemade sandwiches, salads, & desserts plus a beverage.

In the past there were various sales and activities. Perhaps the most energetic was called “Kiss the Kid.”   Various members names were attached to voting boxes where everyone could drop in their choice for the individual who would cuddle up to a Blue Ledge Farm baby goat and, hopefully, get a kiss. The “vote” was money, so the winner was the person who had collected the most dollars in their box. While this was fun for many folks, a few felt that we were frightening the “kids.” So congregational energy was turned elsewhere the following year.

In 2013 RF included a “Father’s Finds” area, where shoppers could hopefully purchase a Father’s Day gift. The festival also offered a quilt raffle and children’s gently used toys and games. Four activities that continued through the years, in addition to the above mentioned food sales, are the sales of plants, used books, used jewelry and scarves, and provision of all-day musical entertainment. In 2014 the group also offered homemade aprons, which decorated the CVUUS sanctuary in spectacular fashion and then went home with the buyers.

Each year since 2013 we’ve held a festival similar to these, one year with a professional puppet show for  children. This year, 2019, will be our first festival with a finished lower level in the building. Last year the lower level was accessible, but the lighting was dim. This year both the upstairs and downstairs of the Sanctuary will be brightly lit and welcoming to all. It takes a village of Unitarians to create a community Rhubarb Festival. We hope that it will continue as a  tradition for many years to come.  Submitted by Sheila House

2019 Rhubarb  Festival Wrap-up

CVUUS opened its doors to the community for our 10th Rhubarb Festival, 10 AM – 2 PM. The festival planners counted on the many contributions of our members and friends to create this event.

Pies: These are always the hallmark of the Festival and were front and center again.  Lise Anderson recruited pie makers and bakers and organized “pie bees” over two evenings at Fenn House and our new ground floor kitchen. We welcomed your donations of rhubarb stalks. Rhubarb pies were priced at $18 and strawberry rhubarb at $20.

Lunch: Vanderburghs and others ran a Café featuring sandwich and salad, drink, and dessert for $10 per person.  The café opened at 10:30 AM.

Books and Art: We were ‘GOING BIG’, expanding our Book Sale to include MORE BOOKS, as well as ART OF ALL KINDS! This expanded effort was designed to RAISE MORE MONEY to benefit the library by BUILIDNG NEW LIBRARY SHELVING in our new Fellowship Hall ‘Blue Room’. So we accepted an unlimited number of books of all kinds, for all ages, hard and soft cover. The only exceptions were encyclopedias, older travel guides, magazines and damaged books. We also accepted DVDs and CDs, but not cassette tapes or VHS videos. Friends were welcome to donate books and art as well!

We accepted ANY KIND OF ART – framed or matted, sculpture, ceramic, woven, mobiles, wood carvings, carved walking sticks, 3-D, handmade cards, stained glass, press flowers, knitted clothing, quilts, and more. The art wasn’t sold off cheaply, and some of the larger, photo-filled books were priced above the usual 50 cents – $2 prices.

We also extended the book sale for the following Sunday and two Sundays afterward, to sell as many books and art pieces as possible, to maximize our fundraising. Leftover inventory is being stored for future sale by Steve Butterfield.

Bling (used jewelry and scarves) and Plants were also sold and music was offered all day.