The Swift County Fair Board asked me to be a pie judge again. I said “Well I suppose I can” with a chuckle. I can’t put into words how much I enjoy tasting all the pies at the fair.
I must confess, I am not a pie baker. I have learned so much from the other lady judges that know what they are looking for when judging a pie. Over the years they have taken the time to teach me what makes a good pie and what makes a bad pie. The key to a good pie is the crust they say, especially the bottom crust, most people make the mistake of not baking the pie long enough and so the bottom crust isn’t done. It’s kind of doughy and runny. A good pie will have the bottom crust done! That is the first thing I look at when tasting a pie. Of course the taste is the most important element when judging. We tasted Apple, Peach, Strawberry/Rhubarb, Blueberry and a Peach/Blueberry pie that was very good. I’ve never had that combination before.
There are many great pie bakers in Swift County. All the pies we tasted were incredible. You can tell the ladies put a lot of effort into their county fair pie. This all happens in the Chuck Brown building while the polka band is playing. It always draws a big crowd. I had something special happen to me after the judging was over. We decided who the 3rd, 2nd and 1st place pies were out of all the pies. The lady in charge of the pie baking contest came over to us and wanted to confirm the winners. This is the first time we hear the names of the winners. 1st place went to Luella Young. Unknowingly to me, Luella was sitting just a few feet from me in her lawn chair. So she heard me say her name, and she shouted over to us “Did you say Luella Young?” I looked at her and said “Yes, is that you?” She said yes and then I told her that she had won 1st place out of all the pies. The look on her face was priceless. She teared up with joy. She couldn’t believe it.
I got up and walked over to her and congratulated her. Luella told me she is 86 years old and has never won 1st place. She was so happy. I then interviewed her on the radio and she was so gracious. She gave a great interview explaining how she made her pie and the ingredients she put into it. It was a peach pie. She uses real fresh peaches and real butter, not lard! Luella also said the crust is very important and repeated to me what I knew about the bottom crust. I really enjoyed my visit with Luella. She needed help getting out of her lawn chair and walking up to the stage to receive her baking pan as a trophy. After she got back to her lawn chair, some lady took a picture of her and sent it to her son who lives in Germany. Luella was all smiles! It was a great moment at the fair.
I am looking forward to being a pie judge again next year.