Pretzel Fest sells out to help Community Chest

By on May 3, 2012

By: JOHN CRAWFORD Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Amanda Rogers and Joshua Henry RuhlAmanda Rogers and Joshua Henry Ruhl

The first annual Pretzel Fest last Saturday left organizer Alice Bracken sore and exhilarated … and looking forward to more.

"My feet hurt and my hip feels like I walked (ran sometimes) 70 miles instead of seven," she said. "Oh well, what a fabulous day we had. My mind is already planning for next year for bigger, better and more fun, if that’s possible."

The event was sponsored by the Lititz Area Kiwanis Club and local retailers. The financial totals, which will be donated to the Community Chest food bank, are not finalized yet, but the club met its goal of selling 500 tickets to compete in pretzel-centric games and the chance to win prize baskets.

A good portion of those ticket sales happened at the last minute.

"We are hoping to sell 500 tickets," Bracken said Saturday morning. "Up to date, we probably sold close to three hundred. We would love for it to match the Chocolate Walk, which sells out every year. The Chocolate Walk does 2,000 tickets."

By noon, the goal was reached, and more could have been sold.

The Chocolate Walk may have been the model, but the club did not want to copy the October event.

"We decided since the Chocolate Walk has been such a great success, (since) last year we raised over $40,000, we thought we’d try something new (and) take the other institution of Lititz, which is the pretzel, and take it one step further," said Bracken. "We don’t want to mirror the Chocolate Walk. We are going to have a mini tournament of games. We’ll have more interaction between contestants and the people running (the games), rather than just eating."

Starting in the Rudy Building on East Main, participants received a game card and a map to 17 locations around downtown Lititz. Ten locations had games that each contestant had a minute to master. Winning all 10 games qualified the player for the grand prize gift basket raffle, and everyone attempting every task qualified for the second basket drawing.

Vel Johnson of Stewartstown, N.J. just happened to be visiting with friends when he heard about the Fest.

"We are here for a getaway weekend at a local bed and breakfast," he said. "By a fluke, we are here at the Pretzel Fest, so we thought we take advantage of it. We are going to do all the little competitions they have and go visit the 17 stops along the way."

One of the first tasks he attempted had his group laughing while his wife took video to send home.

"This was the salt shaker," he said, still smiling. "What you do is shake out all the ping pong balls they have in the box without using your hand. My wife will have (the video) to all our kids before we get down to the corner."

Local resident Nick Crosetto decided to join the Fest along with his girlfriend from North Carolina.

"We look for stuff to do instead of just sitting around the house all the time. I was reading in the paper about it and it sounded pretty interesting," he said. "I think it’s fun and Allison brought up a good point in that it has taken us into stores we might not usually walk into. We actually bought a candle and some candy from the stores downtown."

Pretzels, of course, are made to be eaten, so not everyone spent the day playing with their food. Three restaurants participated in a new recipe contest.

"Scooter’s is serving a pretzel pancake," explained Bracken. "We have a cherry delight (from Danner’s Deli) and at the end we have Greco’s brand new ice cream, which is called ‘A Taste of Lititz.’"

Each person tasting the samples got a chance to vote on their favorite.

"We did a pretzel pancake, which has crushed up salted pretzels in the batter," said Scooter’s owner Dawn Quinn. "That gives it a nice texture and crunch to it, and we top it with a caramel and white chocolate drizzle to get a salted caramel flavor. It’s been going over great."

"We could possibly see it as a featured dessert with some ice cream on it," she continued. "Our chocolate sandwich that we do for the Chocolate Walk started this way and now it is a featured dessert. This could definitely head in that direction."

Jeanette Moyer of Danner’s on Main Street described her creation as "Cherry Cheese Delight."

"It’s a pretzel crust and inside is a cream cheese Cool Whip mixture with a cherry pie filling on the top," she said.

The final choice came from Mike Greger of Greco’s Ice Cream.

"We titled the ice cream ‘A Taste of Lititz,’" he said. "It contains two different types of Sturgis pretzels, Wilbur dark chocolate mini-buds, our own bittersweet hot fudge blended together in a vanilla-based ice cream. We came up with it for the festival. We wanted to incorporate the two biggest tastes of town and add our Greco’s’ flair to it by adding our bittersweet hot fudge and our homemade peanut butter topping. We just introduced it today and it will be on our menu on a regular basis."

Greco’s won the cook-off in a close vote.

The rowdiest event of the Fest was the line of local residents, businesspeople and politicians lining up to take turns in the dunk tank outside Bracken’s Think Silk store (the former Record Express building at 22 E. Main St., rear).

Mayor Ron Oettel, mail carrier Barry Lavender and businessman Mark Hough of State Farm Insurance were among those who volunteered to spend 20 minutes sitting on a plank on a 40 degree day while their supposed friends and co-workers paid for the chance to plunge them into the water.

"We filled it up with hot water last night," volunteer Charlie Strickler assured the participants.

Good-natured jibes flew back and forth as dunkees and dunkers vied for the last word. Mayor and Fire Chief Oettel, who managed to have the fire company on a call during his stint, chided one participant with the comment, "He’s got the power. Has he got the strike zone?"

Later in the day, an anonymous participant was overheard saying, as he walked away after drenching his boss, "I don’t know about you, but that felt very good to me!"

Hough provided the rationale behind subjecting himself to the dunk tank.

"I think it’s just the whole nature of Lititz," he said. "We moved here 16 years ago. We wanted to get involved in the community and anytime the community does stuff, we participate. Alice approached me and we’ve known each other for years. It’s hard to turn down people who are doing things for the community."

"The Pretzel Fest is a charity (event) for the Lititz Community Chest," explained Bracken. "There are a lot of people going hungry, so it is basically for the food bank. The Lititz Area Kiwanis are the organization (behind the event). The retailers are also partnering with us. The Lititz Community Chest runs the food bank.

"We decided since it was being done in Lititz, we wanted the money (stay) in Lititz. Our goal is helping one child at a time, so we’re hoping to help the children in Lititz.

"Yesterday went off without a hitch thanks to the wonderful Kiwanis group, countless volunteers, the retailers, sponsors and the community supporting the event," concluded Bracken. "It just proves what a few people (18 Kiwanis members) and a community can do when they put their minds to it." More PRETZEL FEST, page A16

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