Determined by MSNBC as one of the must-see events of the year, the Vidalia Onion Festival is marking its 35th anniversary with new events, including a chef’s contest and an artist’s competition to design the trophy for the contest.

Set for April 26-29 in Vidalia, Ga., the festival is preceded this year by the inaugural Golden Onion competition for professional chefs on April 22. A dozen will be invited to compete for the Golden Onion traveling trophy and a $500 first prize.

The deadline for chefs to apply is March 16. Complete details and applications for the chef’s contest and other competitions — including the Little Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant, a youth boys baseball tournament, a battle of the bands and an official American Cornhole Organization tournament — are available on the festival website at

Artists who live in Georgia, including students, and are interested in designing the trophy for the Golden Onion professional cooking competition must submit applications and sketches by Feb. 15. Materials should be submitted via e-mail to or via fax to 912-538-1466. Trophy specifications are also on the festival website.

In addition to competition events, the festival includes arts and crafts shows, can and motorcycle shows, monster trucks, a carnival, nightly musical entertainment, a rodeo, parades and the 35th annual Vidalia Onion Festival run. According to a news release from the festival organizers, is has been recognized as one of the “5 Don’t-Miss Festivals Across the U.S.” by the MSNBC network.

Industry gathering

The Vidalia Onion Industry Banquet is scheduled for Feb. 18 at the Vidalia Community Center.

About 200 people usually attend the invitation-only annual banquet, according to Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee.

The banquet serves as a wrap-up to the previous year’s season and a preview to the coming harvest. It also marks the announcement of the Vidalia Onion grower of the year and the induction ceremony for the Vidalia Onion Hall of Fame.

At the 2011 banquet, Delbert Bland, president of Bland Farms LLC, Glennville, was the industry’s Grower of the Year. Vidalia pioneer Delwin Dowdy of Dowdy Farms, Reidsville, was the 2011 inductee for the Vidalia Hall of Fame.