Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Cake Walk

My life in appalachia a cake walk

Cake walks are used to raise money in my neck of the woods. People donate cakes-pies-or some other sort of dessert for the cake walk. The goodies are lined up on a table set to the side. Setting the sweets in close proximity helps entice folks to join in the cake walk.

Numbers are marked on the floor in a circle. Participants pay a fee, usually a dollar, to join the cake walk. Everyone lines up around the circle and as music plays they march around the circle. The person running the cake walk has a basket and inside it are slips of paper with the numbers from the circle written on them.

After a few rounds, the music stops and everyone stands still in their spot, making sure to stand on a number. A number is drawn from the basket and whoever is standing on the corresponding number wins the cake. Folks pay another dollar to enter the next round and the cycle continues until all the cakes (sweets) are gone.

Cake walks are very common in my area of Appalachia. How about where you live?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    January 31, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Cake walks are still very popular, particularly at benefits, around here. Another activity that goes along with cake walks, but seems to be extinct now, are box suppers. Single ladies fix a meal, place it in a decorated box, supposedly with hidden identities, and single males would bid on each box. The winner of the box got to eat the contents with the lady who prepared it. Girls always let their sweethearts know which box was hers. Friends, or rivals, of the winner would sometimes bid a box up to make the high bidder pay more.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    When I was in the 4th -6th grades we lived out in the country in Kingston, Tn. I attended a rural school and we had cakewalks for fund raising for the school. One time I was picked to sing a solo and my Dad played the guitar for me and when we would practice at home, my little sister, Charline (3 or 4)would sing with me. When it came my time on the program I walked up to the stage and guess who was right on my heels and sang with me? Yes, and we sang,”When You Wore A Tulip, a big yellow tulip and I wore a big red rose…” I won Queen of Edgewood School that night and not because I was anything special…I just had more pennies in my jar than anybody else. LOL When I look at the picture I cringe. I had on a pretty fancy dress and the only shoes I had were saddle oxfords! What a sight! We took home a delicious cake. What fun/1

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    November 26, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    I love cake walks! And I don’t ever enter to win, that would be kinda silly. Maybe Jackie isn’t from here and just misunderstood? Entering is a fun way to support the cause of your choice with the added bonus of laughing and connecting with your friends and neighbors. No greed and stupidity to it. My stars! as Nannie Parrish would say.

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    So glad I found your blog. Love it. My daddy grew up in Somerset, Ky. and talked about Cakewalks at high school. But someway it was about getting the cake of the girl you liked. Or maybe that was just his goal.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    November 26, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    At our local community club, they often have cake walks. And Chinese auction can bring in a lot of money for one cake. You hold up your dollar, it is collected, then you own the cake, someone else holds up a dollar, then they own the cake, the person running the auction decides on a time, and when they call time the person who was the last to give gets the cake. I also have seen cakes from well known bakers fetch a hundred or more at a benefit auction.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    When our children were small, their school had cakewalks along with the school Fall Festival.
    Usually, a donated quarter got you one walk. That was more fun to see a elementry student, smiling, bright-eyed with joy carrying a cake over to Mom or Dad saying, “I won, I won!” The chaperones/teachers would have a cake walk only for the youngsters, so at least a few would get to win a cake! The adults that donated a cake wore a tag on their lapel and got to walk at least one walk free! To me this is a fair thing, and usually the cake, cookie, cupcake baker gave the cake back, to be walked for again!
    The money was used for something the children needed…A copy machine, special book for the library, or equiptment for the playground. A big to do was usually made of the purchase that was raised. This was intended to assure the thanks for the work that all put into making the Festival a success..because the children, painted, decorated and make game boxes…etc..Sometimes special things were donated as prizes for the games…unused toys, art supplies, books or school supplies…
    Oh, those were the ‘good ole days’!
    I am not fond of what the children are put in front of them nowadays to raise money…with the idea that they will win a special item if they sell the most magazines, cookie dough, etc.
    It gets their hopes up and most cannot run around the neighborhood asking, begging for one to purchase the item…and always it is a lot more than a quarter for the the cost of a cakewalk! Generally, the monies that the school gets, is minimally a drop in the bucket as to what the company is making. The item is never seen as a success for all the children. Only the child in school that happens to sell the most of whatever! I really don’t think teachers enjoy haveing to keep up with all the monies, paperwork, etc. either!
    I knew a child once that won the little prize for selling the most of the item for her room…It was a pitiful prize and not very encouraging for all the work this child put in to it. The parents time, the gas, the arrival and the delivery of sold items…The winner of this type of fundraiser, is not the child, the teachers or the school supply cabinet. It is the company that makes it sound all well and good!
    The workers, teachers, the suppliers of time, gas, and purchase monies are the losers..
    All can be involved, or at least attend the festival for a night of family fun!
    I’ll get off my soap-box now…
    I would love to win me an Itatlian Cream Cake…last time I totaled the cost of this cake to bake was over $5.00 bucks…that was back in the early 70’s.
    Hummm, three cups of nuts, pecan, English walnut and Black real flour, real vanilla, real cream cheese, etc and lots of it….LOL

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    November 26, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Cakewalks were common in Choestoe where I grew up. We had them at school–not at church, as I recall. Recently, my church here in Middle Georgia had a cake walk as an activity in Fall Festival. People have a lot of fun and some go home with a good baked-goods sweet! One person, new to our congregation, had never been to a cake walk in his life, and he is an octogenarian. I was glad he had fun at his first cake walk!

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Cakewalks are very common around here. Churches, schools, and other organizations use them for fundraisers – although Jackie is right – it is a gamble – unlike the lottery you know exactly what your chances are and exactly where the money is going. Around here, the cost to walk the cake walk is, at most a dollar, and is usually less (25 cents is common). It is no longer just about cakes – any dessert will do; and although it is best if the desert is homemade, I’ve seen teenagers walk for a package of Double Stuff Oreos!
    Many variations are possible. An area preschool offered cupcakes. It was during an in-house fall fair and only the preschoolers (mostly 4s and 5s, a few 3s) walked. A color and a number were called; the children had to know the color and number of the spot on which they stopped (with only a little coaching from the observers). They also were supposed to have earned their nickles by doing chores at home and did not have to participate in any of the fair activities if they did not want to. There were also many free activities such as facepainting. It was all geared toward reinforcing learning and teaching responsibility. Very cool!
    Another variation which I’ve only seen once was The Baby Elephant Walk. You can guess what the music was. The prizes were white elephant items members of our adult Sunday School class brought from home. The item had to be in good condition but just wasn’t wanted any longer by the pre-walk owner. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!! The money went to one of our service projects and we just had fun with the silliness. We were much younger then and some of the moves as we walked were – well – interesting. . . . (think the late 70s).
    To all the Blind Pig family and readers: Have a warm and safe and delicious holiday.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Cakewalks are very common around here. I actually participated in one a few weeks back at the church near our house. They were having a fall festival as an alternative to Halloween. Although we went home cakeless we still had a great time. The proceeds went to support their missionaries who are spreading the Word in foreign countries.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Back in the late 70’s, I lived and
    worked in South Asheville. And on
    certain Saturdays of each month, we participated in a Coffee Break get-together at the Agricultural Center near the Airport. My wife made the
    best Rum Cake around, seems like the second piece was better than the first, but we had many Cake Walks for a good cause and there were lots of Musicians playing Country Music between the Cake Walks. This was very entertaining
    and a nice way to make up money
    for a worthy cause…Ken

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    November 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    There was one little community here in East Texas that had a cakewalk circle permanently painted on the “downtown” street. Cakewalks still happen here, though not as often as they once did.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    November 26, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I knew they exist. I have never participated in one. I use the phrase alot, meaning a breeze or somthing that is easy.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    November 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

    I haven’t heard of a cake walk in forever. PTA groups here ran them as part of fall festivals for many years. Now parents cannot send home baked anything to schools. As I read your words the sweetest memory came to me from long ago. Daddy took me to a school event where a cake walk was part of the fun. He was the only adult to walk the walk with his child. One of us won a cake! Funny thing; Daddy didn’t eat sweets. I’m glad to know that some communities still have cake walks.

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Jackie-wow a 100 bucks for a cake-that is amazing and wonderful too : ) In my neck of the woods most people could never pay that much for a cake good cause or not-but they could donate a dollar or donate a cake they baked for a good cause. Often folks who win the cake donate it back to the cake walk so they can ‘walk’ the cake again. Folks who participate in cake walks know its all about whatever cause money is being raised for-not about trying to win a cake they could very well bake themselves.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    On Tuesday, November 26, 2013 8:53

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 26, 2013 at 9:36 am

    We had cakewalks at Almond Elementary when I was a kid. Sometimes the winner would give the prize back and let them walk it off again.
    I don’t hear much about cakewalks any more, at least not where a real cake was involved.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    November 26, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Heard the term “cake walk”, but never encountered one and didn’t really know what it is. Thanks for the education!

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 9:14 am

    I always wondered how a cake walk was organized and how it worked. Thanks for the information. I think it would be great to have one of those cakes; the bakers are usually the best ones in the area. I’m dreaming a delicious cake! I wondered if the gobbler is allowed to play!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    November 26, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Tipper: Those BRITS ought to ‘get a move on’ and get to having those cake walks. Cake walks are about the sweetest way to raise money for a good cause. Mama and my oldest sister always baked the best cakes! In fact that is the main reason I visit that sister today – she will surely have a generous and delicious slice of cake to offer me! HOPE YOUR THANKSGIVING IS NOT SNOWY!
    Eva Nell
    p.s. Tell that Brit about my book “Fiddler of the Mountains” which he could present as a Christmas GIFT!

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I don’t gamble. I would not participate in that. It seems too much like the lotteries that states use as a tax on greed and stupidity. We have cake walks with donated items. Admission is free. Then we have an auction with the best cakes to raise needed funds. Sometimes a special cake from a special baker will bring more than $100.

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 8:42 am

    never heards of this! a cakewalk has always been a dance to me…

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Cake walks are a very popular way of fund raising here in Louisiana.
    The youth of our church had a cake walk at our Fall Fest. Everyone from the youngest to the oldest enjoy playing and get caught up in the excitement of winning one of the many wonderful goodies that are always given.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 26, 2013 at 7:23 am

    It’s been a long time since I saw a cake walk, but to answer your question, Yes, indeed, I’ve seen lots of cake walks and contributed lots of cakes to cake walks. It’s a very good way to raise money at festivals.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 26, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Wow, I hadn’t thought about a cake walk in ages. It used to be very popular around here.

  • Reply
    William Dotson
    November 26, 2013 at 7:16 am

    None that I have heard of, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and all Blind Pig readers.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    November 26, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Cake walks were always a popular part of our children’s grade school Fall Festivals. Everyone always wanted to win one of the donated goodies!

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 6:59 am

    I’ve heard the word but I don’t think such things happen on this side of the ocean. Not in the British bit anyway.

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