HUDSON — Living it up with the lowly “poor man’s vegetable,” the city of Hudson celebrated the cruciferous white, purple turnip with older and young alike at the 4th annual Turnip Festival . Although the Kansas earth did not yield much fruit this year, turnips runneth over in the planted field with the addition of a little water.
The idea of Pastor Wade Russell and Barb Alpers, the Hudson Turnip Festival “was a chance for the small communities to do some things together,” said Alpers. People came all the way from St. John for the event, with the exception of St. John native Brent Ronen, now of Tennessee.
The event started on a warm, sunny afternoon with Hudsonsites meeting at the Community Center for the ride on the antique trolley to the turnip patch for the gathering contest at around 3 ish p.m. The contestants were divided into three groups by age.
Some of the dads were giving their children secret hints for winning. “Go to them middle of the patch to pull,” said one dad.
Good-natured ribbing was par for the competitive races. “You’re going down,” said one adult between cheers led by the teen girls.
Each category was given two minutes to pick the most turnips. Most followed the rules-that is, except for a few adults who kept picking after the ending whistle blew, although they claimed the extras were for the food bank.
The most competitive race, though, was the 7-14 year olds. Twelve-year-old Zeb Hughes managed to fill two bags while nearly everyone else managed to fill only one or a little more.
“I’m glad he’s not in our age group,” said Pastor Russell, who is in the adult’s category, of course.
Good comes out of the rooting around in the turnip patch owned by Marion Alpers. It is worked into a mission for the Hudson Trinity Community Church, and they will take a pickup load of the vegetable to the Hutchinson Food Bank. The seed for the turnips was donated by the Great Bend Co-Op.
Many farmers plant turnips in their alfalfa fields for a variety of reasons. Cattle will eat turnip greens and then the fruit, and some farmer’s harvest the turnips to eat. Others say they help loosen the soil.
In addition to the gathering contest, there was a turnip cooking contest and a turnip decorating contest. Favorite ways of cooking are pan fried with onions or turnip scallops, according to Pastor Wade.
There were turnips and peas, turnips and bacon pizza, BBQ turnips and wings and turnip slaw. The judges seriously considered each entry and chose a winner based on originality, flavor, use and eye appeal.
The judges chose the BBQ turnips as the judge’s choice award, and the people’s choice award went to turnip cole slaw. More turnips pizzas were added to the mix after the contest so the entire crowd of 30 or so could have a taste.
The best decorated turnip was the K-State cheerleader by Brittney Schrag who received prizes are all for the Wheatland Cafe, located in Hudson. All of the prizes were certificates from the cafe.
All in all, it was a fun day. “Yeah we had a real good time,” said Alpers.