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Enter the Shortbread Contest!

Delicious, challenging, elegant—this contest has it all. Grab your great-great grandmother’s recipe and pre-heat that oven! Don’t have a family recipe? Try an online recipe and start your own tradition for your great-great-grandchildren! For questions, please contact us.

Please RSVP with your details below so we are able to make preparations. You may also enter on the day of the event when you submit your shortbread as long as we receive it by the 3:00 PM entry deadline.

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Judging in cooperation with:


Location – Woman’s Building
3:00 PM – Entry Deadline
5:00 PM – Judging
6:00 PM – Winners announced


  • Made from scratch
  • 6 piece minimum


  • Traditional
  • Non-traditional

“Traditional” means shortbread made using the primary ingredients of flour, butter, and sugar. Other ingredients will not disqualify the shortbread as traditional but should not materially alter the traditional taste. “Non-traditional” may include any other ingredients in whatever quantities.

Judging Criteria:

  • Taste
  • Texture
  • Appearance
  • Presentation

Winners will receive a small gift, sign the Decatur Celtic Festival Shortbread apron, be added to the Decatur Celtic Festival Shortbread Contest winner board, and have their recipe published on the site. If you are interested in supporting the shortbread contest or desire to contribute to the awards, please contact us.

The History of Shortbread

The story of shortbread begins with medieval “biscuit bread.” Any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk: the word “biscuit” means “twice cooked.” Gradually, the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.

Shortbread was an expensive luxury, and for ordinary people, it was a special treat reserved for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas, and the New Year. In Shetland, it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. The custom of eating shortbread at the New Year has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule Cakes, which symbolized the sun. In Scotland, it is still traditionally offered to “first footers” at the New Year.

Shortbread has been attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots, who was said to be very fond of Petticoat Tails, a thin, crisp, buttery shortbread flavored initially with caraway seeds, in the mid-16th century.

There are two theories regarding the name of these biscuits. It has been suggested that the name “petticoat tail” may be a corruption of the French petites galettes (“little cakes”). However, these traditional Scottish shortbread biscuits may, in fact, date back beyond the 12th century.

The triangles fit together into a circle and echo the shape of the fabric used to make a full-gored petticoat during Elizabeth I’s reign. The theory here is that the name may have come from the word.

Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle divided into segments (“Petticoat Tails”), individual round biscuits (“Shortbread Rounds”), or a thick rectangular slab cut into “fingers.”