Here’s the short story: So. Many. Whoopie pies!
And here’s the long of it . . .
My dear pal, Janel — a self-professed sweet tooth always on the lookout for tasty treats — has a well-earned reputation for ooo-ing and aah-ing over food. So when I suggested we make our way across the river into Lancaster County for the 14th annual Whoopie Pie Festival in Strasburg, she heartily agreed.
Leaving York early in the morning, we made our way to the land of designer outlets and Amish farm stands, pulling into the first parking lot we came upon that indicated it was a satellite lot for the festival. The big yellow school bus and it’s equally sunny driver had already loaded up a couple people from the other two cars in the lot and after adding us and another woman with her little grandson, we were off. It was a very short drive to the entrance of Hershey Farms (actually would’ve been an easy walk), where we were safely deposited at the Info Tent. We picked up a $25 VIP pass which allows early entrance for two people into the circus-size whoopie pie retail tent, an insulated tote (complete with a cold freezer pac), and some coupons for festival activities.
Our timing was perfect, as we had no sooner queued up than it was 9:30 and the line began to move. (Now, you can get into the festival free of charge but that is a longer line and access to the tent doesn’t begin until 10:00. ) We reached the edge of the parking lot and cautiously stepped across the rain-soaked, straw-covered ground into the sales tent.
Okay, remember when I mentioned Janel’s exclamations over food? Well, this place left her momentarily speechless. Go ahead . . . take a look at what we saw . . .
Whoopies, Whoopies, Everywhere!!
People moved along the rows pointing out interesting flavours to one another and filling their totes and other bags with their favourites from more than 100 choices. By the time we made our way up and down the rows, I had collected an even dozen “regular” whoopies (in 12 different mixed and matched cakes and fillings) plus three “adult” versions (which had liqueurs in the cream). My total bill was around $40. Janel picked up a couple singles as well as a mix pack as a gift for her brother-in-law who, with his Southern drawl, refers to them as whooperwills.
We chatted with other people in the checkout line. The woman in front of us had come, spreadsheet in hand (it wasn’t her first time to this rodeo), from Princeton, NJ; the family behind us left home in Tyrone, PA, at 6:30 a.m. to get to the Fest for the VIP opening. They were going to make a day of it in the area before heading back home.
When we emerged from the exit end of the tent, it wasn’t yet 10 o’clock; the line on the entrance side had grown substantially and there were still lots of people inside gently stuffing their bags. I read later, from someone who worked the festival, that they sold out, leaving behind not one of the 45,000 whoopies pies made for the event.
After the big tent, we did a quick walk by the craft tents set up along the lane, got a bite to eat from the concession tent, and then wondered down the hill to check out the “World’s Largest Whoopie Pie,” the “Make Your Own Whoopie Pie” booth, and the Whoopie Pie “Checkers” booth. Across the bridge near the picturesque pond, we used our two coupons to try our luck at the Whoopie Pie Launch station… using the heavy-duty sling shot contraptions to fling duct tape-wrapped whoopie pies across a field. We also made a quick visit to the gift shop, stopping along the way to see the goats and alpacas, and snap a photo in a buggy (sans horse).
Having our fill of the sweet festivities, we hopped back on the shuttle bus to the now-overflowing parking lot, and made our way onto the highway heading home, passing a long line of cars waiting to get in.
To be honest, I was a little disappointed not to find whoopie pie-themed items for sale at the craft stands. I totally would’ve bought a pair of whoopie pie earrings and maybe a whimsical whoopie cushion (and by that I mean accent pillow). I also expected there to be music. All-in-all, though, it was a fun way to spend the morning and I’m really glad we went.
I offered up my stash of whoopies at a party I attend later in the day, cut into quarters so people could try the different flavours. Of what remained, The Professor sampled one and I took the rest to the office on Monday where they were quickly “appreciated.”
In the post-sugar-high light of the next day, I’ve realized that my desire to make savory whoopie pies is going to come to the forefront of this blog. I have a bunch of ideas already and can’t wait to get started on them, so stay tuned and thanks for following.