Pretzel Fest success! Lucier wins dunk tank challenge, ABC sandwich earns top pretzel chef honors
MICHAEL C. UPTON Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
Anyone who had the honor of sitting in the dunk tank during last year’s inaugural Lititz Pretzel Festival knows this year’s weather was more suitable to take the plunge for a good cause. With spring conditions raising the temperature into the 60s, visitors to America’s Coolest Small Town found wonderful weather to stroll amongst more than 20 participating businesses.
"We had more people than last year," said Pretzel Festival co-chair Alice Bracken.
More than $4,200 worth of tickets were sold as more than 600 people came out to celebrate the pretzel in the Kiwanis Club sponsored event. Like last year, the money will help fund the Lititz-Warwick Community Chest food bank. New this year, a portion of the funds will go to the Kiwanis Eliminate Project. The Eliminate Project is a joint effort between Kiwanis and UNICEF and aims to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. Residents and tourists filled the streets partaking in games, enjoying live music, and of course, eating pretzels.
"The most popular event is probably the salt shaker," said Bracken. "It’s hysterical and makes everybody laugh. It’s really, really lots of fun. It got the most attention."
Part of the Twisted Minute to Win It games of the Pretzel Festival, the salt shaker consists of a tissue box filled with ping pong balls. The box is then strapped to the waist of the contestant who needs to shimmy and shake all the balls out of the box in under one minute.
"You shake your booty to get all the ping pong balls out," joked Bracken.
The spectacle took place in the storefront of the Rudy Building, 27-31 E. Main St., the hub of the Pretzel Festival operations. The Twisted Minute to Win It is a collection of a dozen pretzel-themed games, all of which were held throughout downtown Lititz. Contestants needed to construct a tower of mini-pretzels at The Purple Turtle Consignment Boutique, play a version of Plinko at Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, and go Pretzelin’ (fishin’) at Morton Fine Furniture. Donna Swinford had the most complete and fastest finishes in the games and walked away with a large basket filled with Lititz business goodies. Heather Petasek came in second and also won a prize basket.
As for the dunk tank, things got a little heated (in a good way) between some competitive dunkees. John Lucier, co-owner of Lititz House Bed and Breakfast, edged out popular mail-carrier Barry Lavender in an attempt to raise the most money for the Kiwanis charities. Throwers bought a single shot at soaking a local celebrity for 50 cents, or just donated $5 for a guaranteed dunk.
"Barry Lavender threw down the gauntlet earlier in the week and said he was going to try and (raise) the most money in the dunk tank," said Bracken. "Well, he would have, but Lucier only had one time slot and Lavender had two. So, we’re (judging) by the time slot. If it was total dollars raised, it would be (Warwick School Board Member) Scott Shaub, because he had three time slots."
The wish to water a Lititz figurehead wasn’t the closest competition of the day; one battle was decided by a single pretzel nugget. Inside the Rudy Building, three local eateries squared off to create the best dish in the Top Pretzel Chef competition. Back for glory was Scooter’s Restaurant and Bar with an offering of a pretzel encrusted apple delight. Greco’s owner Mike Greger, last year’s winner, served up a unique offering of vanilla ice cream with pretzels and sweetness. Appalachian Brewing Company, a newcomer to Lititz, walked away with a win on their first try with a staple on their Lititz location menu – Honey Chipotle Pretzel Chicken, a chicken breast encrusted in pretzel pieces and pan-seared with a honey chipotle drizzle. Fest visitors voted on the best item by casting their pretzel nugget vote into a milk jug with the corresponding restaurant. ABC bested Scooter’s by the slimmest of margins, one vote.
"They told me that people went (to the restaurant) saying, ‘we want more of that chicken,’" said Bracken. "The difference between all of the contenders was really close. No one just ran away with it."
Second place in the Top Pretzel Chef went to Scooter’s, but fans later flocked to Greco’s looking for more of their entry, Lititz Cool Caramel Crunch.
"I went down to Greco’s later (Saturday) night," said Bracken. "They had a huge line, just a huge line. So, I’m thinking that they were pretty happy, because everybody was asking for the flavor that was at the (Pretzel Festival)."
And when Bracken talks about everybody, she doesn’t mean just Lititz residents. The Pretzel Festival attracted a bus-load of tourists from New York and media members of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"There were so many fun things that happened," said Bracken.
Just like the Kiwanis’ Chocolate Walk held every October, it looks like the Lititz Pretzel Fest is here to stay.
More PRETZEL FEST, page A16