Olympia Pie Fest satisfies a wide range of appetites

The competition raises funds to feed hungry in the community

ahobbs@theolympian.comFebruary 23, 2014 

Every year, the Olympia Pie Fest serves up a little slice of Americana in the name of charity.

People of all ages packed The Olympia Center on Saturday afternoon to sample more than 90 pies from local bakers. Hosted by the seven-member Olympia Bakers Guild, the annual event benefits the Thurston County Food Bank and the Senior Nutrition Program.

Last year’s Pie Fest raised more than $4,000 and sold 800 slices. Food bank director Robert Coit said $4,000 will provide the equivalent of 300 families with one jar of peanut butter per day for a week. Peanut butter is a crucial item for the food bank because of its protein content and shelf life. In addition, peanut butter is one of the more costly products for the food bank to purchase.

“Every one of these pieces of pie is a jar of peanut butter,” said Coit, noting that donations are especially welcome during a post-holiday slowdown.

This year, 45 bakers tossed their chef hats in the ring with two pies apiece for a shot at Pie Fest glory. Winning pies went up for auction as emcee David Scherer Water charmed the crowd into higher bids. Attendees could win raffle prizes such as baskets filled with wine, books or wood products. Local band Fishtrap brought a jazzy ambiance to the crowded room.

The best part for pie guild member Kathy Kinard, aside from the charity aspect, is hearing the stories behind the entries — some of which use longtime family recipes.

“Is there anything more American?” she asked, looking at a community center full of pie eaters.

Teams of judges narrowed down the list of winners. When judging a good pie, Debbie Lattin said she looks for a flaky crust, a balance of sweetness and a nice appearance.

Most judges also have their personal favorites.

“I lean toward coconut cream pie,” said Lattin, who donated a few sugarless pies to the event from Lattin’s Country Cider Mill. Other pie donors included San Francisco Street Bakery, 8 Arms Bakery and Bearded Lady Food Company.

Baker Andrea Ballard was looking for a competitive edge. She had participated in the past two Pie Fests, and in attempt to elevate her game, she even attended workshops on making pies.

“Baking is a science,” said Ballard, adding that she makes a good marionberry pie. “The combination lard and butter crust is my specialty.”

WINNERS

The grand prize winner was Gail Wish with her apple Asian pear chutney pie, which sold in an auction for $100.

Winners in the youth category (ages 12 and younger) were Genevieve Kramer, first place, apple-raspberry-blueberry pie; Loren Hamilton, second place, awesome apple perfect pie; and Raven Rader, third place, gluten- and dairy-free apple pie. In an auction, Genevieve’s pie netted $140.

Winners in the teen category were Kiarra Wiley, first place, apple cinnamon roll pie; Kenady Wintrip, second place, razzle-dazzle pie; and Forrest Dudley, third place, oatmeal coconut pie. Kiarra’s pie sold for $40.

Winners in the adult category were Robert Cox, first place, pear mint pie; Anna Aylward, second place, “good fruit” pie; and Cathy Velez, third place, blueberry-blackberry-raspberry pie. Cox’s pie sold for $75.

Winner of the “weirdest pie” category was Rhys Karr, who made a strawberry lemonade pie in which the sugar was substituted with lemonade drink mix.

By Andy Hobbs Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 ahobbs@theolympian.com

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