Butter Tart Festival celebrates a unique Canadian dessert in Orangeville last weekend

March 25, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

They are flaky on the outside and gooey on the inside and butter tarts are a uniquely Canadian pastry that has become a standard in most bakeries, kitchens, and grocery store shelves across the country.

Since the first recipe was published around 1900 in Barrie, butter tarts have been created with new flavours and techniques with bakers throwing in a twist to make their stand out from others.

The Butter Tart Festival held at the Orangeville Agricultural Society Event Centre last Sunday, March 17, really showed how popular the tarts are.

About 10,000 people turned out to peruse the rows of offerings from bakers from around the region.

At 2:00 p.m., festival organizer Christine Ivany had already counted 7000 visitors who had already passed through the entrance way to the festival and there was a still a steady stream of people arriving.

Based in Paris, Ontario, Ms. Ivany organizes several festivals through the year. 

“It was something we put together last year. It was the flagship event for the Butter Tart Festival,” Ms. Ivany explained. “It’s a series that we do and tour around with it. We hunt down bakers all over Ontario and bring them into the events.

“Some bakers are smaller and some of them are first-timers. Others have been baking for years and years. We ask them to make as many butters tarts as they feel comfortable making. Some have brought in as many 60 dozen up to 1200 dozen. 

“Some of the bakers will stick with the traditional recipes and add things like raisins, then you have others that doing things like whiskey, and bacon is a big one. It’s sweet and savoury – that’s actually the biggest seller. We were trying to find something unique to stand out. We thought, what is Canada known for? Butter tarts are our dessert.”

Vendor Fran Adsett, is a restaurateur from Fergus who owns Frannie’s Restaurant and Bakery located between Guelph and Waterloo.

She started preparing for the Festival the week before.

“We made 2000 dozens of tarts, and we’re selling out,” Ms. Adsett said.

That’s a total of 24,000 tarts, and by 2:00 p.m., they only had a few dozen left.

The parking lots at the Agricultural Centre were filled and visitors were parking on the road.

It may just be a dessert, but people take their butter tarts seriously.

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