Each year pecan growers from across Oklahoma gather to promote the various uses of the nut — and this year marks their 89th annual conference and trade show.
The Pecan Growers Association has been hosting its annual convention, consisting of many educational programs and meet and greets, since the 1930s. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that Andrea Mount said her husband’s grandfather, who grew pecans himself, decided that there needed to be a more captivating way to promote pecans.
Mount, who has been organizing the Pecan Food Show for 30 years now, said the food show has become the main spectacle for the conference, bringing a wide variety of recipes to light.
“If it has pecans in it, we have a place for it,” Mount said.
As a part of the conference, which begins on June 12 and concludes June 14, the Pecan Food Show will be held from 7:30 a.m. till 4 p.m. June 13 at the Ardmore Convention Center.
With 17 different classes and 17 different categories, anyone can enter any food— from pecan pie to pecan cookies— no matter their age; and if the item doesn’t fit into one of the specified categories, it is placed in the ‘pecan speciality food’ category, Mount said.
Individuals wishing to enter the contest will need to bring their food to the convention center between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Thursday morning. The food is then judged between 10 a.m. and noon.
“Each entry is judged for taste, texture, appearance and uniformity,” Mount said. “The only time we’ve ever disqualified anybody is when they brought something that did not have pecans in it.”
The categories are divided into two divisions; adult and junior, Mount said. Those who receive first place in their class go on to compete for ‘grand champion’ in each category.
Adults who are selected as the grand champion of their category receive a silver serving piece, which ranges from bowls to trays; and youth grand champions receive silver pecan jewelry, Mount said.
“This is unique jewelry,” Mount said. “We took an actual pecan half and had a rubber mold made of it. And I have a silver smith that makes these pecan halves into silver pecan halves.”
The food brought by the grand champions then becomes the property of the Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association and is auctioned off later in the evening at a banquet, Mount said. The banquet costs around $20 to attend and all proceeds from the auction and entry fee go towards pecan research.
“The purpose of it is to promote the use of pecans and to raise money for pecan research,” Mount said. “Pecans are very healthy, they’re usually recommended — health people eat nuts and all of that. They’re just a healthy food to eat.”
For more information on the event, contact Andrea Mount at (214) 908-9591 or visit https://www.okpecangrowers.com/pecan-food-show