You can’t keep a good fruitcake grounded.
The much-maligned bakery delight will once again fly through the skies of Manitou Springs. The 25th annual Great Fruitcake Toss will happen Saturday in Memorial Park. Entrance is free, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own homemade or pre-purchased fruitcakes. For those who fail to secure the hearty treat, Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce will provide a limited supply of $5 fruitcakes for folks to “adopt,” says Jenna Gallas, the chamber’s special events coordinator. And by adopt, she means take home. There will be no fruitcake rentals this year because of COVID-19.
And no funny business, cake throwers. A technical inspector will be on hand to ensure your homemade cakes weigh 1 pound and are rectangular and edible — made of flour, glacéed fruits and nuts. Booze, too, if that’s your thing. Many a fruitcake recipe has called for the sloshing of gin or bourbon into the mix, the better to keep a loaf edible for long stretches of time.
“Families can bring alcohol-soaked cakes,” Gallas says. “Might be an expensive cake to throw. Some people use the same cake year after year. They just pull it out of the freezer.”
Competitors will participate in four categories: balance, accuracy, speed and distance.
The prize this year has been upped to include a $150 fruitcake package from Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, which has sold its DeLuxe Fruitcakes since 1896. The company’s Milk Chocolate DeLuxe Fruitcake Petites are otherworldly, says Gallas, which is not often a word used to describe fruitcake.
“I ate a whole box a couple of weeks ago,” she says. “They’re not paying me to say that either.”
Gallas is often asked for advice on throwing the mighty cake. Her tips? “You get that shape right and it’s not unlike a football,” she says.
“You can’t be forming your cake into the shape of a ball, though. It has to be rectangular in shape. Get out there and stretch your arm out and do some practice throws.”
There are, of course, a few changes to the toss this year. The fruitcake bake-off has been canceled, but if people are still jonesing for a slab, there’ll be samples from Collin Street Bakery.
And while the family-friendly event typically attracts up to 300 people, attendance in the park this year will be limited to 75 people at a time. Everyone must wear a mask and physical distancing will apply.
The idea to toss the cake around was born when the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce brainstormed ways to bring more tourists to the tiny town in winter, the hardest season for business owners. The group settled on fruitcake because, well, why not? What else are you going to do with it?
The unusual event even sparked the birth of National Fruitcake Toss Day.
“It’s just like we do with the Emma Crawford Coffin Races,” Gallas says. “What’s the fun and funky thing we can bring people to town for? We’ve become known for it at this point.”
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