TERRE HAUTE —
The smell of delicious pies filled the air inside the Wabash Valley Banquet Center at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds during a pie contest on Thursday — National Pie Day.
“We’re hoping for a big sweep,” said contest participant and Bethesda Gardens Executive Director Cathy Macke as she watched the judges taste the pie entries during the event dubbed “Yipee Pie Yea,” a fundraiser for Senior Education Ministries.
And sure enough, they won big.
During the awards ceremony, cheers and applause erupted from Macke’s group when one of the four pies submitted by Bethesda Gardens was named grand champion. Two other pies made and submitted by the group earned places.
“I’m so excited,” Macke said just after receiving the awards, which included ribbons and a big trophy for “Nutter Butter Peanut Butter,” the grand prize-winning pie.
Certificates “In recognition of your outstanding MasterPIEce,” were also given out at the event, which also included auctions and games.
“We’re big supporters of Senior Education Ministries because we take care of seniors in our business,” Macke said. Participating in the contest was a way for them to support Senior Education Ministries and the seniors, who, she pointed out, are “pie lovers.”
And those who made the prize-winning pies were also pie lovers.
Three people from Bethesda Gardens, including Macke, made pies for the contest, and “we were all trying to outdo each other,” she said.
Competition was fierce, and the eight judges had tough decisions to make.
“It’s just really hard to choose ... because they were all really good,” said contest judge Eleanor Ford of Word Power Family Radio.
“But you have to make choices. Life is full of choices,” she said.
Each judge tasted 11 pies of varying flavors, from the traditional apple pie to blackberry pie, from Grandma Hazel’s Chocolate Pie to Bourbon Maple Pecan Pie, which judge Stacey Muncie described as a “trendy flavor combination ... a modern twist to old, standard pecan pie.”
While the mood was certainly light, all of the judges had a serious look on their faces as they sampled each pie and filled out score sheets.
And as she judged the first pie — the traditional apple pie — Muncie tasted the filling first, then the crust and then both together.
“Very good. Just needs some vanilla ice cream,” Muncie, a freelance writer for Terre Haute Living, said afterward.
Another judge, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, was observed filling out the score sheet with expediency, which was pointed out by organizer Lori Aplin.
“If I get that done, I can eat more,” the mayor said cheerfully.
A panel of judges — which also included the Tribune-Star’s Mark Bennett, Dana Winklepleck of WTWO, Lindsey Monroe of WTHI and Stacey Faith of Purdue Extension — scored pies based on appearance, crust, filling and overall flavor/taste.
“Let the pie tell you its story,” Aplin said before the judging began.
The judges were also reminded that they do not need to finish the entire piece.
But one judge did.
Paul Ford of Word Power Radio actually did clean out his plate each time.
“I always finish it. … I like to finish the pie. They’re good,” he said.
By the fourth pie, he was asked if he was getting full.
“No. No,” he responded.
“Keep ’em coming.”
It was obvious how much he loves pies.
“I like pies. I like the crust,” adding that he likes fruit pies the best so the blackberry pie was his favorite of the bunch, he said.
“I’d like to have pies every meal if I could,” he said.
Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or firstname.lastname@example.org