Annual Caledonia Day festival adds cooking contest to roster of fun


Susan Bell, left, and Jane Kilgore are co-chairing the Caledonia Day Festival apple cooking contest to be judged Saturday. They gathered some friends to demonstrate a few ways apples can be used in a variety of recipes, including Kilgore’s apple-cream cheese Bundt cake pictured. The festival is Friday and Saturday.

Susan Bell, left, and Jane Kilgore are co-chairing the Caledonia Day Festival apple cooking contest to be judged Saturday. They gathered some friends to demonstrate a few ways apples can be used in a variety of recipes, including Kilgore’s apple-cream cheese Bundt cake pictured. The festival is Friday and Saturday. Photo by: Kelly Tippett


Patricia Corbett, left, and Janice Christian are pictured with Corbett’s fried apple pies and apple brownies, and Christian’s habanero apple jellies.

Patricia Corbett, left, and Janice Christian are pictured with Corbett’s fried apple pies and apple brownies, and Christian’s habanero apple jellies.
Photo by: Kelly Tippett



Jan Swoope



Some of the area's best cooks are sharpening up their skills for one of the latest additions to the Caledonia Day Festival set for Friday and Saturday.


It's all about apples in the new cooking contest devised by the Caledonia Day Committee.


"It's one of the fruits you associate with fall," said Jane Kilgore, who is coordinating the contest with Susan Bell. "We have a lot of great cooks in the area and thought that, with the holidays coming, other cooks would like to add a new apple item to their menu file."



"Susan and Jane have gone way above and beyond in planning the contest," praised Betty Darnell, who co-chairs the town's eighth annual festival with her husband, Bill.


Kilgore and Bell enlisted the help of Janice Christian and Patricia Corbett in demonstrating a few scrumptious desserts -- and even jelly -- that can be made with apples. And they've all shared their recipes.


"We'd love to have as many apple cooking contestants as we can Saturday," encouraged Kilgore. The contest will be judged from 1-1:30 p.m. on the festival's stage in downtown Caledonia. Plaques will be awarded for first, second, third and most original.



Get creative


Caledonia resident Christian already had on hand plenty of peppers from her garden, a good supply of jars, plus a huge rosemary bush in the yard, so when she found a recipe for habanero apple jelly online, it was a natural.


"It really is a good jelly. Everyone who has eaten it absolutely loves it," said Christian, who also makes a variety of other jellies. "The apple and the rosemary makes it taste so good, and the habanero has just enough bite so you know it would be really hot without the apple and the rosemary," she laughed.


Kilgore's apple-cream cheese Bundt cake with praline frosting would be a hit at any holiday table. And Corbett's fried apple pies are great everyday dessert.


"I've made these fried apple pies for years," said Corbett, a Vernon, Ala., resident. "I could make them every day and my family would eat them. My husband loves them with ice cream on top."



Music and fireworks


The cooking contest is just one of a long list of highlights during the two-day Caledonia Day Festival that seems to grow bigger and better with each passing year.


Events kick off Friday night in Ola J. Pickett Park, when local and some state political candidates hit the stump at 6 p.m.


That will be followed by a rollicking free show by the band Class of '65 at 8 p.m.


"When the band takes a break about 9:30 p.m., be prepared to see a fantastic fireworks show," Kilgore said. Afterward, Class of '65 plays on until 11 p.m.


Pony rides (and concessions) will also be available in the park Friday evening.



Saturday activities


An opening ceremony at 8 a.m. with the Caledonia High School Band will get the day off to an energetic start, as crowds arrive to visit more than 110 vendors open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Caledonia.


A 5K run to benefit Relay for Life also begins at 8 a.m. "The run has really taken off this year," said Darnell. "There are already 75 people registered, and more entries coming in."


The pet parade, a perennial favorite, will be from 9-9:30 a.m. Then, don't miss lawnmower races at 10:30 a.m. at "the loop" at Caledonia High School.


Food? "We'll have food vendors serving everything you can imagine, from Thai to barbecue, from fried pies and funnel cakes to hand-dipped ice cream," Kilgore promised.


Another highlight of Caledonia Day is the fall decorating contest many residents and businesses go all out for.


"If you live within a three-mile radius in Caledonia, you're eligible for prizes in the decorating contest," said Darnell.


Entertainment on stage from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. will include local church groups, Bubba and the Boxcutters, Jumps Kicks and Splits students, the Caledonia High Dance Team, Sojourner and other talent.


Kids are invited to visit the children's area, with jumpers, pony rides, cartoon characters and much more.


The eighth annual Caledonia Day Festival is more expansive than in years past, and Darnell was quick to praise the whole festival committee, saying, "they have done a fantastic job."


Celebrating the best of Small Town USA -- and mom's apple pie -- make for family-friendly way to spend an autumn weekend in the Golden Triangle.


For more on the festival, visit, or contact Town Hall at 662-356-4117. For more information about the apple cooking contest, contact Kilgore at 662-574-4182.





For cream cheese filling:


1 8-ounce cream cheese, softened


1/4 cup butter, softened


1/2 cup granulated sugar


1 large egg


1 tablespoons all-purpose flour


1 teaspoon vanilla extract



For apple cake batter:


1 cup finely chopped pecans


3 cups all-purpose flour


1 cup granulated sugar


1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar


1 tablespoons ground cinnamon


1 teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon baking soda


1 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1/2 teaspoon ground allspice


3 large eggs, lightly beaten


3/4 cup canola oil


3/4 cup applesauce


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples (about 1 1/2 pounds)


For praline frosting:


1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar


1/4 cup butter


3 tablespoons milk


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup powdered sugar



  • To prepare filling, beat first three ingredients at medium speed with electric mixer until blended and smooth. Add egg, flour and vanilla. Beat just until blended.


  • To prepare batter, Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a shallow pan eight-10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Stir together 3 cups flour and next seven ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in eggs and next three ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in apples and pecans.


  • Spoon 2/3 of apple mixture into a greased and floured 14-cup bundt pan. Spoon cream cheese filling over apple mixture, leaving a 1-inch border around edges of pan. Swirl filling through apple mixture, using a paring knife. Spoon remaining apple mixture over cream cheese filling.


  • Bake at 350 for one hour and 15 minutes, or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely (about two hours).


  • To prepare frosting: Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter and 3 tablespoons milk to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil one minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth; stir gently three to five minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Pour immediately over cooked cake.


    (Shared by Jane Kilgore)






    1 graham cracker crust


    8 ounces cream cheese


    1/2 cup white sugar


    1 teaspoon vanilla


    1 pint jar homemade apple pie filling


    Couple dashes of cinnamon


    1 8-ounce container Cool Whip


    Caramel ice cream topping


    Crushed walnuts (optional)



    • Beat cream cheese with sugar and vanilla until smooth; spread over crust.


    • Drizzle caramel topping over cheese mixture.


    • Mix couple dashes cinnamon with apple pie filling.


    • Pour apple filling over cream cheese mixture.


    • Spread whole container of Cool Whip over apples; drizzle more caramel topping over and sprinkle with walnuts. Chill at least two hours before serving.


    (Shared by Susan Bell)






    6 cups sliced, pared apples


    1 cup sugar


    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


    1/4 teaspoons nutmeg


    1 can biscuits





    • Cook apples and sugar in 1/2 cup of water until soft. Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Simmer 10 minutes; let cool.


    • Flour tabletop and roll biscuit to 6 inches diameter.


    • Place 1/4 cup of cooked apples in center. Fold biscuit in half; seal edge with fork.


    • Fry in hot grease until golden brown. Serve warm.


    (Shared by Patricia Corbett)






    1/2 cup chopped Habanero peppers


    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar


    1 apple


    1 cup water


    5 cups sugar


    1 1/2 packages Certo liquid pectin


    1 tablespoon chopped rosemary



    • Wear gloves when handling the peppers; they will burn. Cut the top out of peppers, cut in half and scrape out seeds, etc. Put them in a blender and chop, measuring 1/2 cup.


    • Peel and chop up an apple.


    • Add the vinegar, water, apple and peppers into the blender and blend for a minute or so.


    • Put this in a large pot with the sugar and bring to a boil, stirring. Let boil fully for a minute or so, then add pectin and let it boil for another minute or so.


    • Remove from heat. Add chopped rosemary to the jelly. Stir well, then ladle into jars. Secure the lids. You will need to "shake" or turn the jars over a few times while it begins to gel, to disburse the rosemary throughout the jelly. It will gel slowly over about 15 minutes.


    (Shared by Janice Christian, from






    1/4 pound margarine


    1 cup flour


    1 cup sugar


    1 egg


    1/2 teaspoon baking soda


    1 cup peeled and chopped apples


    1 cup chopped walnuts


    1 teaspoon cinnamon



    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt margarine in microwave or pan. Combine other ingredients and mix with margarine.


    • Pour into greased 8-by-8-inch dish. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.


    (Shared by Patricia Corbett)



Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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