It's time once again for Frisco visitors and residents to come a-wassailing. Wassail - that's pronounced "wah-sull" and literally means "be you healthy," in Old English. The weeklong festival celebrating the drinking of cider kicks off today in Frisco, bringing holiday cheer and a little friendly rivalry among the 75 competitors who are in hot pursuit of the Wassail trophy.The holiday kick-off, in its fifth year, will feature Frisco vendors serving up their wassail through Dec. 16. The event concludes with the naming of the business with the best tasting concoction.Visitors and residents are encouraged to try the beverage at the numerous businesses throughout town. Each business will have free samples, $5 commemorative mugs and voting cards available."There are going to be 75 variations of completely unique wassail," said Suzanne Lifgren, marketing director for the town of Frisco. "It's a way for businesses to show case their personality - they all really take pride in the recipes and the competition part of it. Every difference in flavor is a conversation piece."The town is putting an extra emphasis on Wassail Days this year, said Lifgren. With the focus shifting to the Frisco Adventure Park Dec. 13, the town hopes to create a winter wonderland atmosphere through the holiday season.Interested parties are encouraged to make reservations for free tubing, Nordic skiing and sleigh rides.
As more and more businesses join the competition each year, the friendly rivalry - particularly between previous winners - mirrors the sweet, but spicy taste of the wassail itself."I do it because it's fun, but I'm definitely going to win," said Raymond Griffin, owner of The Lost Cajun, who is defending his Wassail title from a win over Rivers Clothing Company last year.But Campy Campbell, owner of Rivers, said he intends to take back the title - and he's using a cute puppy to do it."We're going to charm people with a puppy and really get them to drink our wassail," Campton said. "How could people not vote for us?"Rivers won the inaugural year in 2008 and kept their streak going with victories the next two years. Then, last year, with the competition in the fourth year, Griffin at the Lost Cajun deposed Rivers from the wassail throne."We're getting really into this year," Campton said. "We need to get that trophy back."Griffin intends to defend his title this year, hoping for a second victory in a row."The people at Rivers are so nice and they want to win, but we're just going to have to say 'Sorry! We got this,'" Griffin said. "It's a fun competition because I want to know how they're doing and they want to sneak around and see what I'm doing over here, but I'm keeping my recipe secret."It's all fun and games, though, for Griffin, Campton and other vendors through town. What it all comes down to is the holiday spirit and the kick-off for the busy season through town."It's the holiday spirit that makes this event what it is - this is really what gets it started. The walking from building to building trying all of the different Wassails is great - once they get here of course, they get to try the best wassail without a doubt," Griffin jokes. Griffin puts a Cajun twist on his recipe, which was created by his wife for Wassail Days two years ago."When we moved here in 2010, we had never heard of wassail before. We tried about five different blends and didn't like them. It was a lot of trail and error, we've probably thrown out 10 gallons of wassail," he said. Being a perfectionist, is what brought the win to Griffin last year."We literally cook our wassail - it takes about two-and-a-half hours to blend everything and cook it down. When you do that all the spices blend together correctly," Griffin said. "I taste every single batch and the whole staff gets involved. We all have to agree that it's perfect before we put it out there."Campton and the rest of the River's gang is using their tried-and-true blend."The recipe has been in our family for years, and trust me, we don't take any short cuts," he said. "For the highest quality wassail, be sure to come to Rivers."