Down a gravel road outside Decorah, Iowa, a birthday celebration like none we’ve ever attended was born. Our farming friend Liz Rog, co-owner of solar-powered and historical Fern Hollow Cabin, where we had been staying during recent travels, invited us to accompany her.
The host/birthday girl made a collection of unique and tempting cakes from scratch in her farmstead kitchen. As you can see below, the cakes came in all sizes, shapes, types, flavors, fillings and frostings to help create, renew and celebrate community. Friends and family were asked to share a dish for the potluck dinner—much of it seeming to come directly from the garden—before the “Parade of Cakes” began. It was a lovely event, and perhaps one that might inspire a new tasty tradition on your farm.
A welcoming cake flag hangs above a grassy pathway leading to the birthday celebration gathering spot as the sun drops into the tree line. Luminaries led the way back to our cars after nightfall.
We arrived as the “Parade of Cakes” began, with community members transporting more than 30 different homemade cakes to a 24-foot-long table.
Such diversity! There was a cake topped with fresh peaches…
… of course, a carrot cake …
… a refreshing lime cake …
… blueberry cheesecake …
… and a raspberry cheesecake.
Some cakes were light and fluffy, while others tempted guests with a diversity of fruit toppings.
Even edible flowers were used to decorate the frosting atop one cake.
Don’t forget the Oreo Cream Cake—and plenty of other chocolate-laden sweets.
Each and every cake had a corresponding sign, which identified the type of cake and its ingredients. Not to be overlooked, the host and birthday girl even prepared several gluten-free cakes.
Next, community members helped set the table of cakes.
With the “Parade of Cakes” completed and each dessert arranged on the table, a crew with sharpened knives started to slice pieces perfectly sized for sampling.
No birthday celebration is complete without a joyous “Happy Birthday” song ringing out, led by Liz Rog, widely respected for her beautiful ability to carry a melody. We owe Liz tons of thanks for inviting us along to what has become one of the most memorable birthday celebrations we’ve ever attended.
Lisa and our son, Liam, queued up to try more than 30 different cakes offered.
Traffic was relaxed and convivial. One after another, more than 70 people in attendance passed through the line.
As darkness fell, candles illuminated the tables.
Soon, cake pans and trays went empty, but not before everyone had plenty to eat.
How about a big bonfire to finish off the night?
Bellies full, we visited with others in this vibrant community who come together every year to celebrate a special someone’s birthday … and perhaps equally important, the place everyone calls home amongst the camaraderie of neighbors, family and friends.
Do these photos leave you wanting a cake of your own? Select a cake recipe suited for the season:
- Dark-chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Fresh Apple Cake
- Pear Upside-down Cake
- Applesauce Berry Upside-down Cake
- Mom’s Blueberry Cake
- Pumpkin Cake with Whipped Maple Frosting
Savoring the good life,