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Record Amount Raised for Food Bank
For expert musical instrument advice, you would do well to check with A440 in downtown Great Bend. You also would do well to check with A440 for expert cookie recipe advice.
For the fourth time in five years, A440 Musical Instruments has taken the crown as the Great Bend Cookie Contest champion. The 12th Annual Great Bend Cookie Contest was held Nov. 28, in conjunction with Small Business Saturday. Twenty-one Great Bend businesses participated in the event, which saw a record turn out of 250 cookie judges, who were also potential customers visiting Great Bend stores.
A440’s first win happened in 2016 when it tied with Renue Salon for the cookie crown. Then it rattled off two more consecutive victories in 2017 and 2018, before being unseated by Sweet Dreams Candy Shop last year. This year, A440 finished with 16 votes more than Sweet Dreams and Forever Young Kids Resale, which both tied for second place.
A440 won this year’s contest by serving a double chocolate crinkle cookie with salted caramel. Many know that A440 co-owner Kim Heath bakes excellent cookies, but A440 manager Lyle Jones said that is only part of the reason for the store’s winning success.
“Mrs. Heath makes amazing cookies, but the secret is that (the Heath’s) youngest son picks out the cookies for each competition,” divulged Jones. “Kids pick out better cookie recipes than adults do. He's been picking them out ever since we started entering the contest. If you look around, you see a lot of sophisticated cookies, chosen by adults. Go for something simple. Our cookie this year might not sound simple, but it is really a simple cookie to bake, but also so delicious.”
The cookie contest has become a post-Thanksgiving tradition for families and friends, and it has helped to draw extra traffic into Great Bend stores during Small Business Saturday. For the third straight year, the event sold out, even after increasing the number of cookie bracelets and boxes to 250, which is 80 more than the previous year. A donation of $5 was suggested for all participating judges, with all of the collected proceeds going to the Community Food Bank of Barton County to help feed those in need during the holiday season and beyond. The record number of participants also meant a record amount of $1,330 was donated to the Food Bank. That surpassed last year’s record by $465.
As a precautionary measure for safety, this year’s cookies were required to be wrapped in separate cookie sleeves, and/or served individually with tongs by a store representative. Jones said he preferred the method of placing the cookies in sleeves and setting them aside for contest participants because it was easy to keep track of how many cookie judges came through. He reported that all 250 cookies were given out at his store. Among those numbers were potential new customers to A440.
“We generally get a couple of customers a week who say they had no idea we have a music store in Great Bend,” said Jones. “On cookie contest day, we can count on five or six people who didn't know about our store, but now do. We do have people throughout the year who mention the cookie contest, so the event definitely gets the word about us across to people.”
Businesses participating in this year’s Great Bend Cookie Contest were Rosewood Furniture Gallery (Cookie Headquarters), 10th Avenue Boutique, A440 Musical Instruments, Bling, Buckle, Dilly & Doc Creative Studio, Doan’s Outdoor Store, Forever Young (Kids Resale), Great Bend Coffee, Heart of Kansas/Ms. Pretty Pickles, Kustom Floor Designs, Poppy Petals Boutique, Perfectly Paisley Boutique, Rana Luna Boutique, Renue Salon and Spa, RePerks Coffee Shop, Rosewood Bargain Barn, Rosewood Wine Cellar, Sweet Dreams Candy Shop, That Hipster Place/BBE Signs, and The Wright Place Downtown Flea Market.
As part of the festivities, cookie contest businesses also donated prizes, which were awarded to cookie contest participants, following the contest. Those were drawn and announced via Facebook Live this year.
“In a year of challenges, I’m amazed at the continued enthusiasm and support for this community event that benefits small businesses and our local food bank,” said Great Bend Cookie Contest organizer and Rosewood Business Development Director Anna Hammond. “The popularity of this event continues to grow by leaps and bounds and we are committed to improving upon it each year. Thank you to participating businesses and to cookie judge participants for your impressive contributions made to our community food bank.”