CCE-Steuben Annual Gala

CCE-Steuben pairs berries and barbecue at annual event

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben County switched up their annual gala event this year into an old fashioned backyard barbecue aimed at the entire family, and it was a huge success. The event was held at the Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes in Corning on June 2 and featured a Pie Contest for both adults and youth.

The theme of the evening was Berries, so the pie entries needed to be of the fruit variety. In the adult category Ruth Troxel of Jasper took first place with her apple pie, and Liz Smalt of Savona took second with a blackberry pie. In the youth category, Dylan Troxel, Jasper, took first place with his apple crumb pie, Ryker Seymour, Corning, took second with a cranberry apple, and Blake Houghtaling, Jasper with his apple crumb pie, and Khloe Carey with an apple pie, Corning, tied for third. The first place adult winner received a marble rolling pin and a certificate for a bare root fruit tree donated by the Steuben County Soil and Water Conservation District. The first place youth winner also won a marble rolling pin, and all the other winners received pie plates and ribbons.

The berry theme continued with a special presentation by Jerry Keeler, an engineer at Mercury Corporation in Hammondsport. He travels extensively, but when at home, he has maintained a family blueberry farm near Bath since 1999. He has even engineered a hydroponic growing system for the farm which he currently markets. With over 2,000 plants on his farm today, he supplies blueberries in season to local stores. He spoke at the event about how to get started as a new grower and create a quality product. He brought along a a pre-K/kindergarten book that he wrote, entitled Are You A Blueberry , which promotes both healthy food choices and plenty of giggles.

He also showcased a book his daughter, Chelsea, wrote on blueberry recipes from all 50 states. She started the project when she was only 12 years old by placing an article in Country Magazine asking people to send her blueberry recipes. She was inundated with up to 80 letters per day from over 1,000 people willing to share both their blueberry recipes and stories. The teenager typed up every one and created the book , Peek-A-Blue Berry Farm: A Collection of Classic Blueberry Recipes from Across the United States. Chelsea has gone on to secure degrees from Cornell University and Purdue University in Food Science and works in the Food Industry in Minnesota.

Pat Monahan of Heritage Village also entertained the audience with a short history lesson about the Five R’s – Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmatic, Recitation and Recess. Both presentations took place in the 1878 Browntown Schoolhouse on the historic grounds.

Pat Kane provided enjoyable Irish background music for our guests, as guests enjoyed their barbecue dinners and wandered around Heritage Village to talk with a blacksmith in the 1870’s Cooley Black Smith Shop, watch a hearth cooking demonstration with samples in Sarah’s Kitchen in the Benjamin Pattern Inn, along with the 1820-1870 Starr Barn and the 1850’s Wixon Log Cabin. The evening was capped off with a Chinese auction of local products and certificates in baskets and a Pie Auction led by auctioneer Bob Nadjadi of Savona. CCE-Steuben Executive Director Larkin Podsiedlik said, "We are so fortunate to have such support from the community for Extension’s work, and this event not only helps raise funds for our programs, but also awareness of the work we do every day in Steuben County."

CCE-Steuben will celebrate their centennial in 2018, so the historical backdrop of this event is a preview of the celebration to come. Family farms are part of the American tradition of self-sufficiency and serve as the basis of our local communities. We bring Cornell research to this community to help our families thrive in our rapidly changing world. 


Left to Right: CCE-Steuben Board Member Drew Heisey presents award to 1st place Adult, Ruth Troxel; 1st Place Youth, Dylan Troxel; 2nd Place Youth, Ryker Seymour; Third place Youth tie: Blake Houghtaling and Khloe Carey

Judges, left to right: Sue Hitchcock, Bakery Associate, TOPS Friendly Markets; Hilda Lando, Steuben County Legislator; and Cody Carlson, WENY-TV. 


Carla Dawejko
Communications Coordinator
(607) 664-2577

Last updated January 15, 2019