By Michelle Mallette
Grand Forks is widely known for its amazing borscht, but who has the best borscht in town? It’s time to find out, and the Grand Forks Fall Fair is the place to do that.
This year, the Fair is hosting the first-ever Borscht-Off, with a brand-new annual trophy going to the winner, whether it’s a local chef or a home cook.
“The inspiration was that I kept hearing “I have the best borscht!”, in every restaurant in Grand Forks, as well as “Mary has the best” or Polly, or “my Baba makes the best,” explains Fall Fair president Danna O’Donnell. “The time has finally come to actually see who has the best.”
While there has long been a borscht category in the exhibit competition, O’Donnell says that as far as she and the board members know, “this is the first time we are holding the competition, and a new trophy has been specially crafted.” The trophy is a traditional wooden bowl and wooden ladle on a pedestal that will have the winner’s name permanently engraved on a plaque.
Cost to enter is $5, but the winner will get “bragging rights” as well as the privilege of displaying the trophy for a year, until the next year’s competition.
The borscht-off will be midday on Sunday, Sept. 4, and competitors are invited to bring a sample of their best borscht already warmed and in a crockpot to the Curling Rink between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. Crockpots should be labelled on the bottom, where judges cannot see, for return after 3 p.m. The judging team hasn’t been announced but will consist of “a mix of local people specially selected to taste the borscht and determine the winner,” said O’Donnell.
And if your borscht is just a little different from your neighbour’s, that’s just fine. “There are many types of borscht,” emphasizes O’Donnell, “including Polish, Russian, Beet and Doukhobor. Any recipe can enter, it will be up to the judges.” And in the end, there’s only one trophy, “so only one winner.” The winner will be announced just before the end of the Fair on Sunday afternoon.
For more information, consult the 2022 Exhibitor Handbook. Along with the Borscht-Off competition on page 7, the handbook lists all the categories for this year’s Fall Fair and explains how to enter. Handbooks are available at Nick’s Feedway, Rilkoff’s, Save-on Foods and the Grand Forks & District Public Library, at Huckleberry Market and Durand’s Nursery at Christina Lake, and online at https://grandforksfallfair.ca/. While the Borscht-Off is on Sunday Sept. 4, the full Fall Fair runs Sept. 3-4. Admission is $5-$10 for a day, with weekend passes and family discounts also available.