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Port Gamble celebrates holidays with fruitcake

PORT GAMBLE — All puns, wisecracks and witticisms aside, the judges for the fourth annual Fruitcake Competition during the Port Gamble Country Christmas arrived Saturday afternoon to seriously distinguish which of the 10 cakes — or doorstops depending on the perspective — were worthy of first, second and third place.

Before getting down to business, however, a joke or two was shared as the three present judges relaxed, cleansed their palates and prepared to delve into each delicious morsel served up.

Theresa Hamilton, who works at the Kingston Bank of America, author Debbie Macomber and Olympic Resource Management Director of Business Development John Shea were ready with forks in hand to spend as long as necessary tasting the different fruitcake loafs.

“Lots of liquor,” joked Macomber when asked what went into making a good fruitcake judge. “Oh, you mean judging, I thought you said fruitcake.”

With laughs abounding, each judge joked a bit, but all said fruitcakes are timeless and will continue on into the ages of Christmas, as will the humor accompanying them. Hamilton said she made fruitcake with her grandmother, and now makes the same recipe every year to celebrate the season.

“Fruitcake will never die,” Shea said.

“It’s sort like Hilary Clinton,” Macomber added. “You either love her or you hate her.”

Each fruitcake was judged according to taste, weight, appearance and cutability. One year the winner was decided on which fruitcake was heaviest because each tied in all other categories, said Port Gamble Manager Shana Smith.

This year’s top winners are Valarie Martinson in first place and Sharon Greany in second.

“We’ve had some you almost needed a chainsaw to cut into in the past,” Smith said as the first cake was carved up for tasting.

The rest of the town was celebrating as well, as Country Christmas boasted not only the fruitcake competition but also arts and crafts, caroling, Christmas trees, Santa pictures and present ideas. This year’s event was stretched into the first three Saturdays of December, instead of just one weekend, allowing more residents and visitors to attend.

“We just arrived, but we plan to enjoy it,” said Port Ludlow resident Charlotte Pennington. “I’ve had it on my calendar for quite a while, and I just love visiting Port Gamble.”

Her friend, Port Ludlow resident Trix Bonterse, said the event was yielding gift ideas and the chance to shop and catch up with her friend. The two began in the Port Gamble General store and then made tracks for the Walker Ames House, where many of the vendors were located. Daisy & Co. Owner Deb Cohn was among them, selling Swarovski crystal jewelry along with other items catching shoppers’ eyes.

“I’m having a blast, it’s really been great,” she said. “You know, it started out really well this morning, and it’s kind of slowed down now. I’m hoping with the tree lighting I’ll get a good rush.”

There is one more Saturday of events Dec. 15, which will include vendors, carolers, a cookie decorating station and a showing of “Mary’s Little Boy Child” at 1 p.m.

Residents can also pick out a live Segerman Christmas tree from the farm set up behind Historical Ground Coffee Company. For more information, call (360) 297-8074 or visit www.portgamble.com.

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