Turnip Festivals Around the World

As tarnished as its reputation is and as humble its beginnings, turnips are being celebrated in some parts of the world like Switzerland and New England.

They celebrate not just how turnips can be a delicious vegetable when properly cooked, but how it can be used to express one’s artistic tendencies.

Räben Turnip Festival, Switzerland

Like the Räben-Chilbi Turnip Festival in Switzerland.  This annual traditional festival celebrated on the month of November honors turnips by using this hardy crop as a canvass.

White turnips are carved into lanterns.  But unlike cutting holes into the vegetable the way it’s usually done with pumpkins, only the skin of the turnip is lightly carved, creating dainty, intricate images that goes beyond scary faces.

Children who participate in the procession carry with them hollowed-out turnips with candles in it.  Every house and buildings along the parade also displays candle-filled turnips, the sides of the road lined up with these beautifully-designed turnip lanterns, illuminating the sky with its color and beauty.

The people of Richterswil, Switzerland had been organizing this gathering to honor turnips since 1905.  In 1998, their dedication to turnips finally paid off when the festival – showing off 27 tons of turnips, 50,000 candles and a parade over 3,000 feet long — made it to the Guinness Book of Records.

The festival not only honors turnips with their carvings, but also includes other root vegetables.

Gilfeather Turnip Festival, Wardsboro, Vermont

Vermont knows how to celebrate their fruits and vegetables.  From apples to zucchini, they have all sorts of festivals.

But the people from Wardsboro especially like turnips.  It’s the only one of two vegetables considered an heirloom by the state so they celebrate it through what is called as the Gilfeather Turnip Festival every October.

During the festival, one would be able to taste all sorts of dishes and delicacies made of turnips.  You wouldn’t even dream turnips can be made into delicious bread, cakes, soup and other turnip treats.

Here you will also find organic produce, crafts and other turnip-themed souvenirs.  They even have videos, DVDs and a publication focusing on turnips alone – The Gilfeather Turnip Cookbook & Other Recipes Rooted in Wardsboro.
People from Wardsboro became attached to this tuber when John Gilfeather started growing a hybrid type of turnip on his farm in the 1900s.  His turnips were white and sweet, a descendant of the German turnip.

Gilfeather sold his turnips by the cartload but he wanted to make sure no one else would be able to reproduce his turnips.  So what he did was keep the seeds to himself and cut off the tops and bottoms of the turnips he sold.

Through the years, his turnips have made its way into countless of dishes.  They were so good that some people even like to cut Gilfeather turnips into very thin slices and eat them raw.