Festivals and events are back in vogue in 2022 and The Town of Midland is gearing up for its largest and sweetest event of the year – Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival. Started in 2013, the festival has grown, and in 2019 over 65,000 people came to Midland to consume 200,000 of these freshly baked treats, and Festivals & Events Ontario lists this as one of their Top 100 festivals. Here is the inside track on how to navigate the festival and get the most out of your experience when it returns on June 11, 2022.
The festival includes a contest for both professional and home bakers. They each compete in two separate categories – “traditional” and “construct it your way”. Head to Rotary Hall at the Midland Cultural Centre for the tastings. Judging of the 120 contestants starting around 10 AM, but plan for around 3:00PM for the Best in Show judging and winner announcements.
The festival starts at 9:00AM and as a seasoned veteran, I would suggest arriving early for a couple of reasons. First, parking is at a premium downtown throughout this festival. That said Midland Transit is running free of charge to hop on all day long and there is a free shuttle bus from the Penetanguishene town dock. You can even bike into town and use the free bike valet located at the King and Hugel intersection, it’s secure, easy, and free.
Secondly, plain, raisin and pecan are just the start of your butter tart journey. Here you find maple walnut, sweet potato ginger strudel, Nanaimo, fruit nut and butter rum, apple crumble, and passion fruit mango, just to name a few. Popular tarts sell out quickly, so my tart shopping strategy is to keep an eye on the festival site as the date approaches to view maps and vendors. Then, I visit the vendor sites and plan my route to get the treats I desire. I suggest bringing a cooler and keeping them in the car while you enjoy the rest of the day.
A full kilometer of the downtown is closed and filled with street vendors offering food, clothing, accessories and of course butter tarts. Don’t miss the Butter Tart Stage which is programmed with live music acts including Ariko in David Onley Park, along the waterfront. Looking for something savoury? Check out the series of food trucks on the way to the Butter Tart Stage or dine in one of the many downtown restaurants. Plan to spend the entire day and explore all Midland has to offer including all the unique downtown shops.
For those of you, like me, looking for those elusive plant-based options, here is the inside scoop! MegaMindful Living is offering vegan butter tarts and vegan lite butter tarts served in a tortilla. As well they have been teasing a mini vegan pecan pie on social media and their butter tart smoothie is making a delicious return for the festival. Rooted Plant-Based Café and Market is offering vegan gluten-free plain, pecan and raisin tarts. They will be serving up dairy-free butter tart gelato. And there are rumours that their yummy gluten-free butter tart waffles may also make a triumphant return.
If you are looking to work off some of the butter tart goodness, registration is open for the Butter Tart Trot, a 1KM Kids Charity Run /5 KM/10 KM/Half-Marathon Run. This event starts and finishes at historic Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons. The course includes amazing views of Midland’s waterfront and after running by the festival, the turnaround is at Midland Point, before returning to Sainte-Marie. Aid stations for the race even include, you guessed it, butter tarts!
The festival is currently recruiting volunteers. It is a great way for secondary students to earn some community volunteer hours, or just another great way to enjoy the day. Volunteers receive a free t-shirt and lunch for their participation.
Can’t get enough butter tarts? Save the date: September 10th & 11th – for the 2022 Butter Tart Trail. A butter tart inspired cycling trail throughout North Simcoe in partnership with the County of Simcoe and Cycle Simcoe where you can get some exercise and eat delicious butter tarts!