ITHACA, N.Y. –– The 22nd (and a half) annual Rutabaga Curling Championship has come and gone, marking the end of the season for the outdoor Farmer’s Market for 2019.
The Rutabaga Curling Championship was first started by then-agricultural artist and market vendor, Steve Sierigk, in 1996. That year, market vendors and customers celebrated the end of the season by tossing various items down an informal course to get as close as they could to a marker.
“The winter markets were really brutal as far as attendance and there would be very few vendors, maybe 20 or 30…we were sort of pent up about the long winter season and I just wanted to have a little fun,” Sierigk said. “I basically knew that curling involved throwing stuff down across ice.”
Sierigk said the curling competition started by tossing things like frozen poultry and leftover cinnamon buns across the market floor, hence the quirky math for the actual anniversary of the event. The formal rutabaga curl would be introduced the following year, at the close of the 1997 outdoor farmer’s market.
When asked why rutabagas, Sierigk said he doesn’t know –– the root vegetable just rolls well.
The Rutabaga Curling Championship has grown immensely to include a full performance by the Rutabaga Choir, emcees and referees for the event and even an opening ceremony including an olympics-esque torch lighting to kick things off.
Sierigk no longer sells at market but is now the proprietor of Hawk Meadow Farms.
The event was extra-sweet for Farmer’s Market goers and proprietors, as the market was just awarded $339,150 for enhancements to the property as part of statewide Regional Economic Development Council funding.
Farmer’s Market President David Stern said at the beginning of the Rutabaga Curl, “we started doing some strategic planning, talking to each other and the customers, and guess what? We figured out we don’t like our parking lot very much and our pavilion is getting old.”
The Farmer’s Market will work with the city to prepare designs, permits, and pre-construction documents as part of the Cayuga Lake Waterfront Plan that strives to make improvements and increase accessibility to the area.
The indoor Ithaca Farmer’s Market starts on Jan. 4, at the Triphammer Marketplace, every Saturday through March from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The winner’s of the 2019 Rutabaga Curling Championship are as follows:
1st place Molly “Ruta-Baes” Dietz
2nd place Josh “Teeming Masses” Giblin
3rd place Andy Borum.
Less than one foot separated the winners.