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Butter tarts mean big business at Innisfil Farmers' Market

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

The busiest day of the year at the Innisifil Farmers' Market is its Butter Tart Festival. This year, the festival took place Thursday, July 27, 2017 and if you weren't there early, you were going home disappointed. One vendor reported selling out in 30 minutes. Tammy Jackson of Sweet Annabella's is seen her bagging some of the 1,700 butter tarts she made in preparation for the festival.

The busiest day of the year at the Innisifil Farmers' Market is its Butter Tart Festival. This year, the festival took place Thursday, July 27, 2017 and if you weren't there early, you were going home disappointed. One vendor reported selling out in 30 minutes. Tammy Jackson of Sweet Annabella's is seen her bagging some of the 1,700 butter tarts she made in preparation for the festival.

The Innisfil Farmers’ Market begins at 2 p.m. each Thursday, and most weeks, you can be a little tardy and not get there right on time.

But not on the Butter Tart Festival Thursday. Numbers for tarts were being handed out by some bakers before the doors opened, and line-ups permeated the market grounds, as hundreds descended on the parking lot of the Innisfil Recreation Complex to satisfy their butter tart cravings.

“We sold out in 28 minutes today,” said Jaimie Grant of Summer Oven Bakery. “For us, we try to make sure there’s enough butter tarts as possible, but if you’re not here early, you’re pretty much out of luck.”

She and her mother had 300 butter tarts ready to go for this year’s festival. The duo works a series of 20 hour days this week to get everything ready each week, including the fresh tarts. On a regular week at the market, 300 tarts would last them about an hour-and-a-half.

Grant’s bakery is one of the two local bakeries - Bruno’s Bakery and Cafe is the other - at the market each week, complete with butter tarts for sale. But the throngs of people coming out for the tarts means the market needs to expand its offerings for the festival, so three extra butter tart merchants were added this year.

One of which was Sweet Annabella’s. Tammy Jackson said she made 1,700 in advance of this year’s festival. With a lineup that seemed to keep getting longer as the afternoon progressed, she was likely to sell out in due time.

The secret to a good tart, Jackson said, was giving the customer something they don’t expect, such as a Skor butter tart, or a s’mores butter tart, alongside the traditional offering.

That seemed to be just what the doctor order for the Totten family from Newmarket.

“(It’s) faboulous, it’s excellent; this is an amazing butter tart,” said Mike Totten.

“Mine is good too,” added his wife, Shelby. “It’s got bacon in it.”

The family was visiting the farmers’ market for the first time and couldn’t believe the number of people who came out. They were expecting more butter tarts, but didn’t take into account how quickly some of the vendors sold out.

“We wanted to try something new,” Shelby said, adding the family also got six traditional to take home.

“(It’s) the sweetness, the taste of them,” Mike added, as to why they made the trip up Yonge Street that afternoon. “Who can resist butter tarts?”

“I think the appeal is that butter tarts are Canadian,” Grant said. “It’s huge draw. People come out for the joy of butter tarts.”

Grant also serves as the co-chair of the farmers’ market. The butter tart festival, she said, is likely the busiest day of the year for the market.

“I had little old ladies literally elbowing each other for the butter tarts,” Grant said. “I learned last year... people go a little crazy over the butter tarts. I think there’s a mild addiction at play.”

The next major event at the weekly market is the annual corn roast, taking place Aug. 24.

pbales@postmedia.com

@patrickbales