Workstations include apple peeling which is achieved with a gadget where you can position the apple and turn a crank to take off the peel and cut it into a spiral. Then, the spiraled apple is cut into quarters for uniform pieces. The apple pieces are taken in bowls over to another station where they are mixed with the sugar and spice mixture and dropped into a waiting pie crust. A few dollops of butter go on top of the mixture, the top crust is added, and the pie is trimmed.
The crust makers get the best exercise, as they roll out the pastry dough on the table. They said jokingly that it’s a great way to work out extra frustration with the big rolling pins.
At the finishing station, the pie edges are patted down and crimped, and the top crust is slit. With its generous amount of apple filling, the pie stands high and picture perfect. It is then packaged in a plastic bag that features cooking instructions.
The work doesn’t just begin on Friday; it starts at the beginning of the week. Making the pastry dough takes a whole day; premixing the sugar, another day. Buying and delivering the ingredients from the wholesalers takes a couple of days, because a car only holds so much and requires a few trips. Setting up tables and workstations and bagging apples takes another day. Basically, a business is ramped up for the week.
The volunteers say they love being part of this event, as it is well organized and they have so much fun working together. It was Sarah Cameron, a volunteer of many years, who named it the “Apple Pie Festival” after she enjoyed volunteering at the event so much.
The customers picked up their pies in the kitchen just inside the back door, and there was consistent high traffic. One gentleman there to pick up his pies said Jim Colodey (The Pie Man) calls him every year to find out how many he wants. Jim says that almost all of the sales represent repeat business. Typical individual orders are 4, 8, 12 and some over 20. He starts his calling a month prior and fields all the telephone messages at his home.
It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Clyde River Women’s Institute. Proceeds go toward the work of the WI, including the operational costs and updates to the community centre which is well used all year round.
When they started the Pie Festival in 2005, they sold 325 pies; this year, they are selling over 900 pies. The grand total for 7 years is almost 6000 pies. Friday, at the centre, they made 567 pies, and on Saturday, they made 363. It takes a ton of apples to make the pies. Thanks to Don Northcott for his generous donation of apples.
What a large, dedicated group of volunteers, and what a wonderful glimpse into a community in action. All this community spirit, I am sure, offers that extra special flavour to these fresh-made pies.
Thanks to Emily Bryant for being the chief coordinator of the Festival since its beginnings. She and her husband Vans put in many hours behind the scenes in preparation for the Festival. Her superior organizational skills create the smooth flow that makes this event a huge success year after year and so easily attracts volunteers.