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Archive for May, 2013

The World’s Largest Shortcake

By Linda Tancs

What does it take to bake a strawberry shortcake for 15,000 of your closest friends?  According to the folks in Lebanon, Oregon, you’ll need 514 cups of sugar, 224 cups of shortening, 192 cups of eggs, 992 cups of flour, 576 teaspoons  of salt, 2048 teaspoons of baking powder, 448 cups of milk and 18 cups  of vanilla.  The result is the world’s largest shortcake, unveiled annually at Lebanon’s Strawberry Festival.  A cake that immense deserves its own security detail, and it gets it in the form of its official ushers at the Grand Parade, the Strawberrians.  The festival is taking place today through 2 June at Cheadle Lake Regional Park.

Rhubarb Capital of Minnesota

By Linda Tancs

Lanesboro, Minnesota is the rhubarb capital of the state.  Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable?  That depends on whom you ask and where you live.  In the U.S., rhubarb has been ordained a fruit in New York.  Tart like a lemon, it finds its way into pies, crisps, sauces, soups and drinks.  On 1 June Lanesboro celebrates its annual Rhubarb Festival at Sylvan Park.  The day’s events include a tasting, a stalk throw and toss, a growers’ competition and entertainment by–no surprises here–the Rhubarb Sisters.

South America’s Big Island

By Linda Tancs

Ilha Grande (translated, the “Big Island”) is a tropical paradise in Angra dos Reis, a Brazilian municipality located in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro state.   Its largely undeveloped and rugged landscape attracts Brazilians across the nation seeking a quiet haven.  Considered by some to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Lopes Mendes Beach shares its sparkling waters with surfers and monkeys alike.  The largest village, Vila do Abraão, is an intimate cove with striking views of its mountainous peaks from the cozy port.  The ferries and launches from Angra all dock there.  That’s about all the transportation you’ll encounter; the island is free of motorized vehicles.

Life in the Fast Lane

By Linda Tancs

Located in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man boasts the oldest continuous parliament in the world.  Although resplendent with beaches, glens, hills and dales, it’s not for the love of nature alone that visitors flock to this British Crown dependency.  At this time of year, it’s all about life in the fast lane.  Through 7 June The TT vrooms through the island.  One of the most prestigious motorcycle races in the world, you’ll have enviable views from the grandstand in Douglas, the capital city.

The Other Emerald Isle

By Linda Tancs

Ireland may be the place best known by the sobriquet “the Emerald Isle,” but Kodiak, Alaska could run a close second.  Located on the second largest island in the United States, the city is 250 air miles southwest of Anchorage in the Gulf of Alaska.  Adopting the motto “Alaska’s Emerald Isle,” the home of the Kodiak bear is, like its Irish soul mate, an area of lush natural beauty.  Take it all in–the greensward, mountains, islands and wildlife–from atop Pillar Mountain.  One of the biggest draws, taking place this weekend, is the Kodiak Crab Festival.

Leipzig Celebrates Wagner

By Linda Tancs

German composer Richard Wagner was born on this day 200 years ago, and the folks in Leipzig are celebrating their famous son’s milestone birthday.  This year’s Wagner Festival runs through 26 May.  Today’s events include a ceremony at the Opera to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth, attended by fans and dignitaries alike.  Another highlight will surely be a production of his classic composition, Die Götterdämmerung, in the Paulinum building at the University of Leipzig.  Throughout the festival the Museum of City History will be presenting a wide-ranging exhibition on his life, relationships and works.  And stop by the maestro’s birthplace for the Tune A Day at 3:30 p.m. daily, where young musicians will perform a theme from one of his many masterpieces.

Halibut Fishing Capital of the World

By Linda Tancs

Homer, Alaska is the southernmost town on the state’s highway system, the ‘end of the road’ you might say.  And where land ends, the sea begins.  That’s great news for Homer, a fisherman’s mecca.  Recognized as the halibut fishing capital of the world, the local catch is limited to two fish per person per day.  Fish as long as you like; your catch will be packaged and sent home for you.  Best of all, the bounty is available year round and so are the roads, the scenic Seward and Sterling highways.

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