Across the street from one of the largest Peppernut makers in the region, a bookstore recently hosted contests surrounding the traditional Mennonite cookie.

"It is a fun way to acknowledge our heritage here," said Bethany Martin, manager of the bookstore. "My first year (at Faith and Life) I was looking for something fun to do. They have cookie contests and pie contests. But people are proud of their peppernuts."

The contest at Faith and Life Bookstore turned 10 years old this year.

"We have missed a couple, but we have done it every year I have been here," Martin said. "We have had as few as three entries and as many as 30."

Peppernuts (or Pfeffernusse cookies) are a traditional German cookie often made in Mennonite communities. They are a tiny, crunchy cookie filled with such spices as anise.

This year there were about eight entries in the annual contest. Contestants dropped off two to three cups of their best peppernuts at the store. A panel of judges sampled those cookies for taste and texture. Special contests, including speed rolling and peppernut tossing, were also part of the festivities.

"I try to have different judges every year," Martin said. "It is an acquired personal taste. People are different. Some like things very traditional and others don't."

Each year, prizes are awarded to winners. Admission is always free.

"This is just a fun event," Martin said. "This is another way to interact with the public and be part of the community. It is something that I think a lot of the community loves and appreciates."