National Lentil Festival
The National Lentil Festival is an annual festival in Pullman, Washington.
Each year, the citizens of Pullman congregate to enjoy, celebrate, and revel at The National Lentil Festival, a food festival honoring the lentil.
The festival takes place every year the weekend before classes resume at Washington State University, also in Pullman. There are many things to see and do at the National Lentil Festival, Friday night includes live musical entertainment, a kids' carnival, free lentil chili and many business and craft vendors. Saturday's events include contests, The Lentil Cook-Off, many art and business vendors, a grand parade, lentil pancake breakfast, the Tase T. Lentil 5K Fun Run/Walk, beer garden, food court featuring lentil dishes, a large kids area and many other great family activities.
A major highlight of this award-winning festival is the Legendary Lentil Cook Off. It is sponsored annually by the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, a non-profit organization founded in 1965 for the purpose of promoting and protecting those engaged in growing, processing, warehousing, and merchandising peas, lentils and chickpeas.
The 2008 cook-off was held on August 23, the second day of the two day festival. The 2008 Cook-Off was a record breaking year with a total of 125 different recipes from 27 different states. This year's winner was Carolyn Johns of Lacey, WA for her Appleberry Lentil Spinach Salad. Second place went to KatiAnn Watson of Colfax, WA for her Mama's Lalapalooza Chili recipe. Third place went to Raylene Floyd of Cheney, WA for her Mexican Platter recipe. Fourth place went to Trisha Kruse of Eagle, ID for her Spicy Lentil Burrito recipe. Fifth place went to Janice Elder of Charlotte, NC for her Lentilicious Southwestern Salad recipe. Finally, sixth place went to Jack Campbell of Clackamas, OR for his Cuban Lentil Wrap recipe.
In 2007 there was a preliminary cook off event with volunteer judges who rate each recipe on a number of factors, and the top six recipes from this preliminary judging event are mass-produced for 400 Saturday festival-goers to taste and judge for final placing. The winners of the 2007 Cook Off was Fabulous Lentil Mushroom Poppers submitted by Linhda Sagen of Pullman. The second went to Brown Lentil, Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya submitted by Judy Armstrong of Prairieville, Louisiana. Third went to Cheesy Lentil and Double Olive Nachos submitted by Nancy Dentler of Greensboro, North Carolina. The most creative recipe award went to Smokey Three-Cheese Lentil and Caramelized Onion Pizza submitted by Patricia Schroedl of Jefferson, Wisconsin.
In 2006, 88 lentil dish recipes were submitted from all around the nation to be considered for the grand prize of $1,000.
The original festival was organized in 1989. The objectives of the festival were to promote tourism to the Palouse Region and to promote the locally grown pulses, particularly lentils. At the time of the original festival, the lentil was selected because over 98% of the United States crop of lentils was then grown in the Palouse. The initial festival drew a crowd of approximately 4,000 people.
Each year The National Lentil Festival is organized with the help of The Pullman Chamber of Commerce and a festival committee in addition to the many volunteers that help make the event run smoothly.
The Palouse region grows one third of all the lentils in the US, according to the festival's website.
- USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council
- Whitman County Gazette, Colfax, Washington, September 28, 1989