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      Thousands eat up Pasty Fest 2012

      Thousands of people turned out for Pasty Fest 2012 at Agassiz Park in downtown Calumet Saturday.

      This year there was more than the usual fare of live music, games for the kids and, of course, pasties at the festival.

      The self-proclaimed founder of Pasty Fest, Don Kilpela, came to Calumet ready to shake up the annual tradition with a new contest.

      "In my original vision of it [Pasty Fest], I wanted to have a pasty eating contest, and the Elks and the Director Tom Tikkanen were eager to do it," said Kilpela. "I came up with an experiment of the first annual pasty eating contest here in Calumet, Michigan."

      Three pasty lovers volunteered to be the guinea pigs in Kilpela's experiment, which required downing five, six ounce pasties as fast as possible. In just six minutes, the community celebrated their first pasty eating champion!

      Moments like the pasty eating contest inspired the Main Street Calumet organization to host the event.

      "It's time for some summer fun and to recognize something that makes the Copper Country special, and that's the Cornish pasty," said Tikkanen.

      "I think it's just one of those community events that everybody really enjoys," said Rachel Juntunen, an attendant at Pasty Fest. "There's the parade, and then, of course, there's the pasty."

      With several vendors and thousands of pasties ready for the taking, it's hard to narrow down the best Cornish delight.

      Luckily, some hungry pasty experts were ready to make the determining factor. A panel of judges tasted a variety of different pasties in three separate categories: commercial, non-traditional, and Copper Country traditional. The winners of each category were rewarded with a copper pasty plaque and bragging rights, for a year anyway, until the next hungry crowd comes to celebrate.

      2012 PastyFest Bake-off Winners

      Commercial: Roy's Pasties & Bakery (defending 2011 champ)

      Non-traditional Commercial: Roy's Pasties & Bakery (vegetarian)

      Traditional Copper Country Recipe: Dan and Marsha Klein

      Non-traditional: Leslie Hines (breakfast pasty)