While most of us know a cake walk to be a joyful celebration where the best bakers have an opportunity to show off their skills, it wasn’t always that way! In fact, the cake walk had its origins in Afro-American history:
The cakewalk was a pre-Civil War dance originally performed by slaves on plantation grounds. The uniquely American dance was first known as the “prize walk”; the prize was an elaborately decorated cake. Hence, “prize walk” is the original source for the phrases “takes the cake” and “cakewalk.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “a black American entertainment having a cake as prize for the most accomplished steps and figures in walking; a stage dance developed from walking steps and figures typically involving a high prance with backward tilt; an easy task.”
The Cakewalk seems to have begun in the days of slavery, when black folks strutted along in a fanciful manner in imitation of formal white dancing. Supposedly the name comes from the custom of the master awarding a cake to the couple who put on the best performance. The dance came back around in the twentieth century when white folks started to imitate the black version.
Everyone is welcome at the Annual Meeting of the Birmingham Historical Society on February 27th at 7:00PM at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Copies of the book, “Deep South Dynasty” published by University of Alabama Press will be available for sale and signed by Professor of History, Kari Frederickson. A popular annual cake walk follows the meeting.
This popular annual BHS event is finally back. Calling all Cakes! What’s your childhood favorite?
Is it the Southern Living all time favorite, Hummingbird Cake? 7 Layer (difficult to assemble) Caramel Cake? Maybe Lady Baltimore, Coca Cola, or even a 7-Up Bundt? We KNOW you have a favorite—so it’s time to enter this year’s Birmingham Historical Society Heritage Cake Contest!
Monday, February 27th at Birmingham Botanical Gardens Auditorium, 4PM
It’s another Cake Walk into the Past but this year, we’re featuring your favorite childhood cakes.
The rules are simple:
1. The Birmingham Historical Society annual meeting is Monday, February 27—it’s also Cake Contest Day.
2. Bake your Childhood Favorite Cake and bring it to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Auditorium by 4 p.m. February 27 for judging
3. Be sure to fill out the form (see below) and bring it along.
4. Remember, bake ANY cake that’s your official childhood favorite!!
5. We’ll serve all the scrumptious cakes after our meeting and speaker
The 2020 annual meeting focused on a portion of Shades Valley originally developed for the South & North Alabama Railroad which is now in the Ross Bridge community. A beautifully designed stone culvert, c. 1864, which bridged Shades Creek is all that remains of the original railroad causeway designed to bring iron ore from the Oxmoor Furnaces to Confederate arsenals.
A project of one of Birmingham’s important pioneers, John T. Milner, his railroad led to the founding of Birmingham in December of 1871. Several descendants of Milner’s attended the meeting along with an audience of over a hundred. The history of the area was presented by BHS Director, Marjorie White, and the construction of the bridge was illustrated and discussed by Birgit Kibelka.
The meeting began with a presentation of the strategic plan for BHS by Joe Limbaugh, and was followed by a ‘taste testing’ of eighteen cakes and pies based on a memorable family recipe, organized by Carolanne Roberts. Each entry was accompanied by a family history or story, and many had been baked annually for special occasions or presented as gifts for years!
Cake vrs Pie Competition celebrates baked memories of the past. Dust off that old recipe and bake that cherished and memorable pie or cake! Bring it to the meeting at 4PM at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We’d love to share it with you, along with the memories! And HERE’S how to join…
Here’s the entry form below. Be sure to include it with your entry!