Vidalia Onion Festival

Vidalia Onion Festival

Last weekend in April to early May
There are no tears during this tribute to Georgia's state vegetable, the sweet Vidalia onion, which is said to be burp-free, good for digestion, and tearless. The festival is held in Vidalia (nearby Glenville has a rival onion festival, usually a week earlier) at the height of the harvest season, which extends from mid-April to early June.
This onion is an interesting vegetable, officially the F-1 hybrid yellow granex, a round white onion with a yellow skin. Local folks hail it as the "world's sweetest onion," and, in fact, it has a sugar content of 12.5 percent, making it as sweet as a Valencia orange. If the seed is planted anywhere but Georgia, however, it becomes a normal sharp-tasting onion, probably due to the soil. Therefore, the name Vidalia may be given only to onions grown throughout 13 Georgia counties and parts of seven other counties (by act of the state legislature and federal directive).
According to a local story, Vidalia onions have been known since 1931, when a farmer discovered the onions didn't make him cry and so got a premium price for them even during the Depression. But they didn't become widely known until Delbert Bland of Bland Farms, a big onion producer, started a marketing campaign and mail-order onion business in 1984. In 1990, the sweet-onion business in Georgia amounted to about $35 million.
The celebration of the onion includes standard festival fare—music, a street dance, a fishing rodeo and expo, and a fun run. It also has a competition for Miss Vidalia Onion (a beautiful high school or college woman). Other beauty pageant winners are Miss Vidalia Onion Seed (ages 3-5), Miss Vidalia Onion Sprout (ages 6-9), Miss Spring Onion (ages 10-12), and Miss Junior Vidalia Onion (ages 13-16). Finally, there are onion-eating contests, and a Vidalia Onion Cook-Off, which produces cakes, breads, and muffins made with onions.
CONTACTS:
Vidalia Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
100 Vidalia Sweet Onion Dr., Ste. A
Vidalia, GA 30474
912-538-8687; fax: 912-538-1466
www.vidaliaarea.com
References in periodicals archive ?
THINGS ARE HEATING UP AT THE VIDALIA ONION FESTIVAL as chefs from across Georgia prepare to compete in the inaugural Golden Onion professional cooking competition.
In late April and early May, 65,000 people will flock to town to celebrate the twenty-first Vidalia Onion Festival.