Don't Cry: South Georgia’s 37th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival Flavors the City April 24-27

Located at the Vidalia Regional Airport, the Carnival offers Unlimited-ride wristbands for Thursday and Friday, as well as free parking. Credit: Vidalia Area CVB

Peel back layers of fun with concerts, kids’ activities, chef competitions and more

A four-day tribute to a root vegetable might be a ballyhoo anywhere else, but for anyone within driving distance of Vidalia, Georgia, located three hours southeast of Atlanta off I-16 and midway between Macon and Savannah, it’s a highly-anticipated, gotta-get-there, can’t-miss-it celebration complete with concerts, rides, aviation activities, a professional cooking competition and more. So, April 24-27, pack up any notions this event is corny (because that’s a different festival altogether!) and check out why Georgia’s Official State Vegetable, the internationally known Vidalia Sweet Onion, is deserving of its place on the pedestal.

Ode to Georgia’s Official State Vegetable
Watch as bands battle it out in a competition to be the best and listen to Tales from the Altamaha, a folk-life play taking the stage for the 10th year. See who is crowned the next Miss Vidalia Onion, then hit the carnival for a festival like none other, complete with state fair amusement rides and attractions. Join the family-friendly Street Dance downtown at 7 p.m., April 25, before lacing up your tennis shoes for the 37th annual Vidalia Onion Run Saturday morning – an honorable way to make room for fried fair foods. Also on Saturday, simulators, kiddie rides, novelty and food vendors will be on-hand at the Vidalia Regional Airport. Shop the area’s arts and crafts fair and antique fair before testing your taste buds, or simply crying as a spectator, at the World Famous Onion Eating Contest. New for 2014: Wind down Saturday evening with an outdoor performance by concert headliner Uncle Kracker.

Whip up a winner
Find out who has was it takes with Sunday’s 3rd Annual Golden Onion Cooking Competition, an annual state-wide professional cooking competition, the only event that puts Georgia’s official vegetable in the hands of 12 of the state’s most talented chefs.

The First Place Champion will be awarded possession of the Golden Onion trophy for the period of one year. The First Place Champion will also receive a commemorative plaque to retain indefinitely and a cash prize of $500. Second Place and Third Place winners will also receive commemorative plaques plus $250 and $100, respectively.

The Vidalia Onion Festival has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as one of the Five Don’t-Miss Festivals Across the U.S. by MSNBC. Credit: Vidalia Area CVB
The Vidalia Onion Festival has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as one of the Five Don’t-Miss Festivals Across the U.S. by MSNBC. Credit: Vidalia Area CVB

Past winners include Chef Hilary White, owner and executive chef of The Hil: A Restaurant at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., for her recipe “Caramelized Vidalia® Onion Fritter, Serenbe Farm Vegetable Slaw and Mustard Vinaigrette” and Chef Daniel Chance, executive chef of Campagnolo in Atlanta, Ga., for his recipe “Scallop Stuffed Vidalia with Onion Purée.”

For more details, including a complete outline of each day’s festivities, visit. www.VidaliaOnionFestival.com.

Recipes
Sweeten your cooking skills with these winning recipes showcasing Georgia’s official vegetable.

Caramelized Vidalia Onion Fritter
Serenbe Farm Vegetable Slaw & Mustard Vinaigrette
By Chef Hilary White
Caramelized Vidalia onions
3 cups diced Vidalia onions
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt
Pepper

Heat sauté pan. Add oil. Add onions and caramelize. Add butter. Add water as needed to deglaze pan. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Yields 1 cup caramelized Vidalia® onions.

Fritter
1 cup caramelized Vidalia onions
2 Tablespoons apple wood smoked ham, diced
1/4 cup Gouda cheese, grated
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
4 cups canola oil

In a mixing bowl, combine caramelized Vidalia onion, ham, cheese, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to chill. Form fritter using a small cookie dough scoop. Yields approximately 12.
To bread the fritters: Place flour in a bowl. Mix egg and milk in additional bowl. Mix bread crumbs and Panko crumbs in third bowl.
Place the fritter in the flour, coat and shake off excess flour. Place in egg and milk mixture and coat well. Place fritter in bread crumbs and coat evenly.
To fry the fritters: Heat canola oil to 350 degrees. Cook fritters in hot oil until golden brown.

Mustard vinaigrette
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons grainy mustard
1 cup blended olive oil (canola and olive oil)

Mix all ingredients, except olive oil, in a mixing bowl. Whisk in olive oil.

Vidalia onion and Serenbe Farm vegetable slaw
¼ Vidalia onion
2 small peeled carrots
2 Hakurei turnips
4 small radishes
1/4 stalk celery
12 celery leaves
1/4 cup English peas and tips
2 Tablespoons minced chives
Slice onion, carrot, turnips, radish and celery on a mandolin slicer. Toss with celery leaves, peas and mustard vinaigrette.

Assembly
Dress salad and place at the base of a serving dish.
Place crispy fritter on top of salad.
Garnish with chives.
Serves 6

Chef Daniel Chance won the Golden Onion in 2013, with the following recipe.
Scallop Stuffed Vidalia with Onion Purée

Serves 1-2 as an appetizer
1 Vidalia onion
1 U-10 scallop
2 anchovy filets
2 cloves garlic
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon pickling spice
½ stick butter (cold)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut top and bottom off onion and peel. Strip layer by layer until interior is the same size as the scallop. Carefully cut out the core of the onion leaving a two-layer onion ring. Season the scallop with salt and pepper and insert scallop in the onion ring.
Separate onion trimmings and place ¾ of them into a saucepot with the anchovy and clove of garlic. Sauté with butter.
Take remaining onion and place in non-reactive bowl.
Heat vinegar, sugar, water and pickling spice in second saucepot. Bring to a boil then pour over chopped onion in bowl.
Heat frying pan and sear scallop in-onion with olive oil creating a hard sear on both sides and set aside.
Place sautéed onion, anchovy and garlic in blender and purée (add cold butter).
Plate onion purée. Place seared scallop in the center and pickled onion on top. Use green onion tops (if available) for garnish!

Stay connected
www.Facebook.com/pages/Vidalia-Onion-Festival
Twitter.com/VidaliaArea
www.YouTube.com/user/VidaliaAreaCVB

If you go
Make for a memorable weekend – stay in one of these choice hotels:
AmericInn – 912-537-2728
Comfort Inn – 912-538-8100
Hampton Inn – 912-526-0235
Quality Inn – 912-537-9000

About Vidalia│ Three hours southeast of Atlanta off I-16, 90 minutes from Macon and 90 minutes northwest of Savannah, Vidalia, known as the “Sweet Onion City,” celebrates the arrival of sweet onions each spring with the Vidalia Onion Festival. While in town for the Festival, shop historic downtown and visit area attractions, including the Ladson Genealogical Library, a treasure contains more than 30,000 books, pamphlets, manuscripts, periodicals, and microfilm. Pick out a souvenir perfect for travels at the Tumi Factory Store. Step back in time at the Altamaha Museum of Art and History, a 1911 neoclassic-style Brazell House, home to a more than 260-piece Libby Collection of Staffordshire porcelain. Tour the Paul Anderson Youth Home and see Paul Anderson “The World’s Strongest Man” memorabilia. Meet behind the PAYH colonial house. Build memories with a wagon ride through Buckhorn Creek Ranch – home to a herd of domestic and exotic animals such as bison, camel, red deer, and many more. Learn more about the star of the Festival by taking a seasonal tour of Stanley Farms and Vidalia Valley to get a closer look into the production, packing, and processing of the famous onion. If you’re brave enough sample Vidalia onion yogurt at the Vidalia Onion Factory. Churn butter, beat biscuits, make cornhusk dolls, enjoy toe-tapping old-time music, and say “how-do” to friendly goats and mules at the Montgomery County Historic Village. For festival information go to www.vidaliaonionfestival.com.

Test your taste buds with Saturday’s World Famous Onion Eating Contest. Credit: Vidalia Area CVB
Test your taste buds with Saturday’s World Famous Onion Eating Contest. Credit: Vidalia Area CVB

Press release submitted by Vidalia Area Convention & Visitors Bureau -VidaliaArea.com

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