At 2 p.m., the parade begins, a stream of color and energy: floats hung with papier-mache persimmons, bands, capering clowns. Meanwhile, the judges are busily evaluating puddings. They look for consistency of color and a silky texture, and they prefer their puddings free of spices, nuts, and raisins—just pure fruit. And then, after the parade, they mount the stage and announce the winners. Eva Powell, a retired elementary-school librarian, who won the contest in 1977, 1994, 1996, 1997, and 1999—but not 2000—says she's always used the same recipe. "If I'm winning with it, I don't want to change it," she told me. "But this year, I just don't think my pulp was as good."