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From the Times West Virginian
Fairmont, West Virginia
Saturday, May 5, 2007
By Mallory Panuska

Country Club Bakery employee Misty Whiteman pulls out a pan of freshly baked pepperoni rolls and stacks them on a movable rack. Early each morning, employees at the bakery prepare dozens of homemade pepperoni rolls like the ones that will be entered by amateur local bakers at the Three Rivers Festival’s upcoming baking contest.


Fairmont's delicacy
Amateur Homemade Pepperoni Roll Bake-Off added to Three Rivers Festival

FAIRMONT — Palatine Park will be filled with up to 20 varieties of a Fairmont delicacy May 26 when the first annual Amateur Homemade Pepperoni Roll Bake-Off kicks off as part of the Three Rivers Festival.

“No one has ever done this. We felt it would be something different for the festival to attract different people and more people,” said Joe Merendino, president of the board of directors for the festival, of the competition. “We are trying to attract more people by having different activities.”

As the reported birthplace of these rolls — often filled with cheese, sauce and peppers — Merendino said Fairmont likely has a number of nonprofessional chefs with their own unique recipes.

“I think a lot of people like showing what they can do,” said Merendino. “They like to show off their goods, and they can be as creative as they want.”

Judged by three individuals who Merendino said will probably be chosen from among the festival’s many sponsors, the competition will likely concentrate on details such as taste, originality and ingredients.

In 2002, Bob Heffner, a professor at Fairmont State University, noticed a lack of online literature dedicated to this famous local food and created a Web site — — to publicize it.

Naming Fairmont as the “pepperoni roll capital of the world,” the site gives the definition of a pepperoni roll, explains the local history, advises where to find them and lists several of Heffner’s favorite recipes among the provided information.

At the upcoming competition, Heffner said he expects there will be a good turnout of entries.

“This is the place (to have a contest),” he said. “Fairmont has always been credited as starting the pepperoni roll.”

Geared to entrants like the everyday housewives who have their own recipes for pepperoni rolls, this competition will accept up to 20 applicants and will take place at 4 p.m. that day. Anyone who wishes to enter is required to bring a dozen of his or her pepperoni rolls to be judged.

First prize will be $100 and a blue ribbon; second prize, $50 and a red ribbon; and third prize $25 and a white ribbon.

“This is new for the festival. It’s new for Fairmont,” said Merendino of the competition. “I don’t think anybody has ever tried this before or done it, and we hope we get some interest. We hope it’s a good addition to the festival.”


Back to Bob Heffner's Pepperoni Roll Homepage