125th Anniversary Celebration 'Takes The Cake'

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No celebration of Payson's 125th anniversary would be complete without a cakewalk -- a pioneer tradition.

But, Rim Country cooks will be needed to make the walk for desserts a success.

Cakewalks have deep roots in the South from the beginning of the Antebellum Era.

Plantation owners favored the rigidly formal dances of European society.

Slaves parodied the stiff ballroom promenades with an exaggerated walk. Dancers often balanced items on their heads.

The winner received a cake.

"Cakewalk came to mean ‘easy' and gave rise to two well-known clichés -- ‘that takes the cake' and ‘piece of cake,'" said cakewalk coordinator Gary Bedsworth.

Cakewalk fame spread north and became a fad in the 1890s.

The musical accompaniment was an art form on its own merit. Scott Joplin's "Swipesy" is considered a spritely cakewalk.

As it evolved, the dance became a popular fund-raising contest.

Participants walk around a numbered circle, then stop on the spot when the music ends.

The master of ceremonies calls out a number, and the lucky person standing on that number wins a cake.

The music starts again to give another person the chance to win.

Saturday's festivities for Payson's 125th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 6 will include a traditional cakewalk.

"The idea came about after reading Jayne Peace Pyle's book "Cooking for Zane Grey Under the Tonto Rim"," Bedsworth said.

There will be 20 numbers available for each round and there will be a small fee (likely a dollar or two) for each corresponding ticket.

The winner of each round will get their choice of the remaining cakes.

"How many rounds we have depends on the number of cakes we receive," Bedsworth said.

Proceeds raised go toward the annual Western Heritage Festival held in Payson.

There will also be a contest for the best decorated cakes in the following categories: Best Western Heritage Cake, Best Fun Kids Cake, Best Classic Decoration and Best Professional/Commercial entry.

As the event nears, more contest categories may be added.

Anyone who wishes to provide a homemade cake for the event, contact Bedsworth at (928) 970-1928 or e-mail gbedsworth@aol.com.

Apple-Carrot Cake

1 cup apples, grated

1 cup carrots, grated

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup chopped pecans

Grate apples and carrots into a mixing bowl. Add flour, sugar and eggs, then stir. Add nuts, oil, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix very thoroughly for up to five minutes.

Pour the mixture into a greased cake tin and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

-- From "Cooking for Zane Grey Under the Tonto Rim"

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