Above: Image by Flickr user Liz West.
Fields of cauliflower once lined the cool, wet hills of the Delaware County Catskills. The region featured perfect growing conditions for vegetable, which Mark Twain called "cabbage with a college education."
The village of Margaretville was the epicenter of the local cauliflower industry: from the 1920s to the 1950s, the village hosted a cauliflower auction, and generations of nearby dairy farmers used the annual cauliflower crop as a hedge against fluctuating milk prices.
Local farmers and co-ops had their own brands and logos. One, the Rip Van Winkle brand, is now featured on a new mural on Route 30 in the village. (For more on the history of cauliflower in the Catskills, check out Diane Galusha's book, "When Cauliflower Was King.")
For 12 years, the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce has celebrated the humble cruciferous vegetable's long history in the region with an annual Cauliflower Festival. This year, the festival will offer bushels of cauliflower for sale plus cauliflower dishes like "cauliflower and cheddar soup, cauliflower fritters, pickled cauliflower, deep fried cauliflower" and more. The main attraction may be the Tractor Parade, during which vintage tractors from miles around compete for a "Best in Show" trophy.