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Rhubarb, rhubarb everywhere

By Staff | Jul 4, 2014

Stomachs filled quickly at Prairie Village Museum’s second annual Rhubarb Festival on Sunday.

An estimated 155 people stopped in Sandven Hall and let their taste buds overrule a wet, dreary day outside. For $5, visitors could sample six of the more than 30 recipes, ranging from rhubarb-glazed pork, rhubarb salsa, rhubarb kuchen and many baked classics combining sweet and tart.

“Rhubarb is a big thing around here and people enjoy it,” said Pat Bye, Friends of the Museum president. “I suppose a lot of people grew up with it. It’s part of the area tradition and it’s a plant that grows well around here. It’s got a nice tartness.

“If you go to Glacier Park in Montana huckleberries are a big thing. Around here it’s rhubarb.”

The second edition of the growing event brought in at least a dozen new rhubarb aficionados and their takes on bars, pies and more. Organizers added to-go containers this year, which turned out to be a popular idea as patrons hoped to share the treats with those who couldn’t make it.

Glenda Mack played piano as a steady stream of visitors savored and discussed their favorites – many in a cookbook of local recipes for sale at the museum.

Kathy Blessum, a Friend of the Museum, made rhubarb cream kuchen.

“I’ve always liked rhubarb and our kids liked it so well that our girl made rhubarb fruit leather and entered it in the state fair and won a blue ribbon,” Blessum said. “I grew up on a farm, so rhubarb was as abundant as the trees.”

Jane Ekren was a first-time contributor to the festival with her rhubarb bars.

“I joined the Friends of the Museum this month, so I’m a real newbie,” Ekren said. “My husband doesn’t like rhubarb, so I could make something for other people. It turned out good. My mother was a great rhubarb maker, so I grew up with that.”

Patrons put tickets in bags next to each trey or bowl of rhubarb treat and counts showed the top four recipes as Linda’s Rhubarb Dinner (a recipe in the cookbook), Rhubarb Pie in a Pan, Old-Fashioned Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp and Strawberry Rhubarb and Cream Bars.

Richard Davidson, another Friend of the Museum, heard of a rhubarb festival in Fessenden, where he previously taught.

“I went down there and thought the food was fantastic,” Davidson said. “The people and the community are super, super great about bringing stuff.”

The board liked the suggestion and is pleased to have another staple on the museum schedule.

“We were thinking about having something every month – May, June, July and August,” Bye said. “(Davidson) went to that one in Fessenden and we decided to give it a try.”

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