Sweet berry pies help bank $230 for charity

KINGSTON — Within Kingston Farmers Market’s usual weekly array of tents showcasing bead necklaces, greeting cards and bluegrass music, the annual berry pie contest sent new smells of baked homemade goodness wafting through the crowds Saturday.

There, a table of five judges sat next to the small pie booth, taste-testing one berry-laden pie at a time, with occasional exclamations ranging from, “That is one full pie!” and “Nice flaky crust” to “Too much flour.”

Meanwhile, neighboring vendors and customers stood by, anticipating the chance to purchase their own slices.

“We’re just waiting with our tongues hanging out,” said vendor Sally Sulonen.

In the mixed berry category, Beth Perez won grand prize for her strawberry-raspberry-rhubarb and Patty Halfhill was awarded second place for her blueberry-peach, while Karen Hartman came in third. Halfhill, who has been participating in the contest for the last four years, won first place last year in the same category. Her “secret” ingredient is almond extract, she said.

Cindi Dudley was awarded first place in the blackberry category, with Vikki Lobberegt taking second.

Dudley, ex-president of the KFM board of directors, once sold her homemade pies at the market. She said she learned the art of pie crust-making from her mother.

Grand prize winners received $25 KFM vendor gift certificates; second prize winners were given a KFM T-shirt or tote bag.

Judges included Port of Kingston Commissioner Pete DeBoer; community member Jeff Bradley, Kingston Citizen Advisory Committee Member Annie Humiston, Kiwanis club treasurer Chuck Solomon, and the wife of a KCAC member, Bobbie Moore.

Moore’s husband, Walt Elliott, volunteered her because his “palate isn’t discriminating,” she said, adding that while she does make pies herself, she was “ashamed to say” she uses store-bought ingredients for crust.

All judges agreed the fruit pies, most of which were made completely from scratch, were baked to perfection.

“They rank right up there,” said Solomon.

Bradley added that the pies were “way better than anything I could fit in my lunch box.”

After whetting her appetite with the various pastries, Humiston said she was ready for more.

“Now it’s time for a bagel with humus and smoked salmon,” she said with a laugh. “Life’s short, eat dessert first.”

Remaining slices of the pies were sold along with scoops of ice cream and drip coffee to wash it all down.

Event coordinator Sue Duffin said the pie contest raised $230, which will be donated to ShareNet and the Kingston Food Bank.

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