About 300 people made their way to Otto Lake last weekend for the annual Denali Blueberry Festival. There, they found lots of activities for kids, free raft rides on the lake and a chance to play Epic Kayak Ultimate, culinary treats from food trucks, vendors, and even a booth to receive Covid vaccinations.
Later in the evening, Marc Brown & The Blues Crew provided live musical entertainment.
One of the highlights of the festival was the Denali Blueberry Bakeoff.
Judges sampled everything from a giant blueberry cinnamon roll, to a blueberry pizza, lemon blueberry cake, blueberry bread and a peanut butter and blueberry jam bacon burger. The accompanying fries included smoked blueberry ketchup.
The top vote-getter was the scrumptious blueberry cinnamon roll, created by Kat Reeves and Bridget Sutton of Flour Girls Bakery & Deli in Nenana. They started experimenting with blueberry recipes from the moment they heard about the Denali Blueberry Festival.
“For many weeks, we baked several different items, from a sugar cookie blueberry jam butter cream frosting cup to blueberry deep fried glazed hand pies,” said Kat Reeves. “The blueberries were hand picked here in Nenana where our Bakery & Deli is.
“Bridget Sutton makes giant cinnamon rolls almost daily, so we decided to add blueberries. The first batch came out of the oven smelling like heaven, but when we pulled it apart we both said, in unison, more blueberries.”
What followed was cream cheese frosting with three tablespoons of freshly canned blueberry jam. The dough is an old Sutton family recipe.
Second place went to Brandi Carter’s lemon blueberry cake. Brandi Carter, who sells that delicious baked good at the weekly Healy Farmer’s Market, didn’t even know she was a contestant. A friend secretly entered the cake and didn’t tell her.