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Vashon's Strawberry Festival gives islanders chance to have jam judged

With an eye toward the traditions and legacy of fruit production on these islands, the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum will sponsor two events during Strawberry Festival, a Heritage Jam Contest and a “Tractor Jam,” both slated to take place after the Saturday parade.

A highlight of each year’s parade is the procession of vintage tractors, driven by former farmers and the occasional raving beauty dressed in a strapless gown. Many visitors have expressed a desire to take a closer look at those tractors, but they rarely enjoy but a fleeting glance as one after another John Deere and Massey Ferguson whisks by.

This year, parade-goers will get their chance to look a little deeper into all that machinery after the end of the parade, as the tractors loop around and line up in front of and around the heritage museum for the big “Tractor Jam.”

While folks ogle tractors, they can also come inside the museum to enjoy another event that captures the spirit of Island farming’s past, a spirit that is alive and well in many Island kitchens.

In what the heritage association hopes will be the launch of an annual rite, it has put out the call to jam makers for the chance to have their homemade jam named “Heritage Jam of the Year.”

There will be three categories in the competition: “Strawberry in its many variations,” which can be any jam that claims strawberries as at least half of the fruit; “other,” which is any jam concoction that does not include strawberries in the recipe; and “It must be jelly ’cause jam don’t shake like that,” any clear filtered jellied preserve.

Entrants are encouraged to think creatively, as prizes will be awarded on the basis of not just flavor but originality. Any style of jam is acceptable, including conserves and chutneys. There will be two finalists chosen in each category, and from those, one jam will be chosen overall as the “Heritage Jam of the Year.”

Entrants are asked to include their recipe and a bio of their jam-making background when they submit their jam, which should be no smaller than a half-pint.

Jam entries can be brought to the museum starting Friday afternoon, but must arrive no later than 10 a.m. Saturday. Judging, by a panel of local jam aficionados, will begin immediately after the parade, and the public is invited to come watch the judges in action.

The winner will be named and prizes awarded at 3 p.m. Entry forms are available at True Value and the heritage museum.

All are encouraged to come see the tractors, bring and enjoy a picnic lunch on the lawn, visit the museum exhibits and witness the excitement of the jam contest in action.

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