The expression “the early bird gets the worm” comes to mind when we think of Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival in Midland. By 9am the streets of this small town in the Heart of Georgian Bay are already bustling with activity. While butter tart vendors are still setting up their stands the visitors are already lining up to purchase their favourite tarts. This annual festival, which celebrates a traditional Canadian treat, draws thousands of people to Midland and it keeps growing every year.
Before you hit the highway, check out this amazing website 400Eleven.com. The site is a one-stop-shop for info on attractions, accommodations, travel tips and recommendations for anything north of Toronto.
Midland is located 1.5 hours north of Toronto.
Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival
It’s a one-day festival (too bad it’s not longer) that brings local residents and visitors together in a giant street party to celebrate this uniquely-Canadian and highly-treasured dessert. The vendors are bakeries, large and small, that come from all over Ontario to sell and enter their butter tarts in competition. Some of the visitors we met are from Toronto, Hamilton, and some even drove up from the U.S.!
If you’ve never had one before then try to imagine a freshly baked flaky pie crust filled with a soft, smooth centre of sweet filling that’s the colour of caramel. We tried our best to describe it, but trust us when we say that words can’t describe it well enough. You will just have to taste one for yourself.
It’s also VERY important to note that butter tart lovers are divided as to whether or not raisins belong in the recipe. Tony interviewed dozens of people on the street, and it got pretty hilarious, watch the video here.
Where do you stand on the issue? Raisins OR no raisins in your butter tart? Leave a comment below for our very unscientific poll.
Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Contest
In addition to visiting the Festival we also got to serve as Judges in the Butter Tart Contest (sweet gig right?!?). The Contest had 2 categories, Traditional and Dessert Fusion, as well as a Professional and Amateur subcategory in each.
We were assigned to judge in the Traditional Contest and our fellow Judges included Jean and Elizabeth aka The Baker Sisters, four-time curling champion Glenn Howard and tart conoisseur Mark Nassis to name a few. Our contest hosts were Matt & Tara, a funny pair of morning show hosts from 93.1 Fresh FM based in Barrie. We had a great time participating in the contest, but Tony and Glenn were up to no good, kinda like kids in school that have to be separated for disturbing the whole class.
Our job as Judges was to score each butter tart, on a scale of 1-10, based on criteria outlined on our scoring sheet. This was a blind taste test which meant we did not know who the baker was and whether they were a professional or an amateur. The criteria included the taste of the filling, the crust, the size, shape, etc. Once each Judge received a tart we had a few minutes to taste and rate each tart before moving on to the next tart. 1 Tart = 1 Round.
The final round of taste testing included the Top 8 tarts based on the Judges scores from previous rounds. The Winners in each category were later announced at the end of the day at the Awards Ceremony. Congrats again to Doo Doo’s Bakery who claimed first prize in both the Traditional & Dessert Fusion category.
We interviewed Diane Rogers from Doo Doo’s Bakery about what it takes to create a ‘champion butter tart’ and where she stands on the whole Raisin/No Raisin debate.
A Tart for Every Tastebud
If you think you can’t enjoy a tart because of the gluten, sugar or dairy then you are mistaken. There were several vendors selling gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan-friendly tarts. We also saw butter tart wings on the menu at the local pub as well as a local artisan selling butter tart scented candles!
One thing is for sure, if you have not tried a freshly baked butter tart then you have not lived a full life yet. Everything about a butter tart is absolutely divine from the taste, to the smell but most importantly how they make you feel, so go ahead and treat yourself to one.
Thanks Again to 400Eleven.com for inviting us to the Festival and introducing us to the Midland area which is a beautiful part of Ontario. We’re definitely planning our return visit and hope to enjoy another butter tart or two 😉
Have any photos or videos of your visit that you would like to share with us? Send them over to @LetsDiscoverON.