ELKTON — Downtown merchants are preparing for a battle of baked goods as they get ready for the 11th annual Elkton Cookie Throwdown from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13.

Jessica Price, executive director of the Elkton Chamber and Alliance, said the competition is limited to 10 businesses, with seven businesses having confirmed so far, including The Palette & The Page, Elk River Brewing Co., Spork Café, the Cecil County Arts Council, Suz Quilt Studio, Brookbend Interiors, and Cecil County Tourism.

Participating businesses will each prepare their own cookie for community members to taste and judge. By the end of the night, those community members will determine this year’s best cookie.

Price said each business must prepare at least 200 cookies, though she said last year’s event drew more than 200 attendees so merchants may want to bake a batch of 300 to be on the safe side.

The businesses must also list the ingredients used in their cookies for anyone with food allergies, according to Price.

Otherwise, Price said the competition is fairly open for business owners to make whatever flavor or type of cookie they prefer.

“Sometimes it’s the classics that wins. Sometimes it’s new ingredients and recipes … Some people are traditionalists. Some people like new things,” she said.

Two years ago, Price said Rob Massimiano, owner of Tidewater Tattoo, served a chocolate chip cookie that had crab meat and Old Bay on it.

“It sounds crazy but it came in second place,” she said. “It was really close to winning.”

Personally, Price prefers a time-honored classic: the chocolate chip cookie.

“I’m more of a traditionalist, so a good chocolate chip cookie is always a winner in my book,” she said.

When the Cookie Throwdown began 11 years ago, it was started as a chocolate chip cookie baking competition among the owners of The Palette & The Page to entice customers to stop by their shop. In following years, however, the competition expanded to include other merchants.

Per the rules of the competition, all of the participating merchants will also be open for business the night of the event in order to draw more shopping traffic to Main Street amidst the holiday season, Price said.

“You just want to make sure people get a chance to see their business,” she said. “The whole point of doing it is to get people in the places they may not normally visit, so we want to make sure that they’re open so people can see what they have.”

The Cookie Throwdown is free to attend and a nice way to spend a December evening, according to Price.

“It’s a fun night to come around and taste what each of the merchants can do,” she said. “It’s a free, family-friendly event.”

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