Georgetown’s Red Poppy Festival returns this month for the 18th year of celebrating the city’s signature flower, as well as its food, music and community. On April 28-30 at various areas around the square downtown, attendees will enjoy live music, a car show and parade, an art show and lots of food from local vendors. Admission to the festival is free, including Saturday night’s musical headliner Diamond Rio.

The winners from last year’s cooking contest at the Red Poppy Festival in Georgetown. Contributed by the City of Georgetown

According to the city, Georgetown’s history with poppies dates back to World War I, when Henry Purl Compton (known as “Okra”), a corporal in the Army, sent poppy seeds to his mother in Georgetown from northern France. Residents have been sharing seeds and growing the flowers ever since, and in 1990, the town was certified by local residents and the Texas Legislature as the “Red Poppy Capital of Texas.”

The festival’s cooking and baking contest returns this year, and there’s still time to sign up to compete. Entries are due April 26, and the winners will be announced on that Saturday night before the Diamond Rio concert. There are two categories — sweet and savory — and you can find the application to participate at All of the submissions must include poppy seeds, and last year’s winner was the Sweet Lemon Inn, which impressed the judges with these lemon poppy seed thumbprint cookies.

The bakers behind the Sweet Lemon Inn were among the winners of last year’s Red Poppy Festival cooking and baking contest. Contributed by Sweet Lemon Inn

Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Thumbprints

2 cups butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
Store-bought or homemade lemon curd, for filling
Poppy seeds, for filling

Using a handheld mixer, cream butter in a large mixing bowl; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, flour, salt and zest; mix well. Portion dough into 1-inch balls, and place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Indent centers with thumb, and chill for 1 hour. Once chilled, fill centers with lemon curd and sprinkle centers lightly with poppy seeds.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Look for a light golden brown around the edges of the cookie and you will know it’s done. Cool on wire racks and store in airtight container.

— Sweet Lemon Inn