Nothing sounds better on a cold February day than the smell and taste of some fresh baked goods. At Mack’s Apples, the off-season may be a slow time but they know exactly how to compensate by hosting their twenty fifth Apple Pie Contest last weekend.
It always proves to be a popular event, with 43 pies having been entered into the competition this year in either the traditional or non-traditional category. While traditional pies tend to follow a similar design and specific number of apple varieties, non-traditional pies allow for competitors to let their imaginations run wild, with some using anything from pecans and caramel to even bacon on their pies.
According to Rose Searles, one of the staff members at Mack’s Apples, every entrant would receive a variety of prizes, including access to a free peck of apples during apple season and a half-gallon of cider. The first, second and third place winners in each category earn extra prizes. Along with gift bags and gift certificates, first place winners won custom-made pie plates from Great Bay Pottery so they could proudly display their blue ribbon status.
Although the competition may not be any sort of special way to kick off the spring season, Searles feels that it is still a great way to bring people together.
“This is just something we do annually,” Searles noted.
The competition was split up into two portions: first, the twelve judges would try different pies and assess both their taste and appearance, with flavor taking precedence. From there, the finalists would be chosen and sampled by every single judge to determine first, second and third place.
Amongst the various competitors young and old were Sonya Fonseca and her daughter Bianca. While Sonya has spent the last several years practicing her pie crafting skills, Bianca has only just begun. Nonetheless, she managed to take a major liking to cooking, already owning her own set of cooking tools. When asked what their trick was to producing a good pie, they both commented that they taste each part along the way.
“We watch a lot of cooking shows,” Sonya mentioned.
There were even a few male entrants this year, with Paul Martin and his son Benjamin entering the fray. Paul said the family used to live in an orchard, and he and his wife fed Ben apples since he was a baby. This lead to Ben’s love of apples and making pies with his parents. They have been baking pies together since Ben was little, but this was the first time the son entered one made on his own.
Before announcing the winners, Andy Mack Jr. asked the crowd how long some of them have been competing. Mack asked the crowd if any had participated for over a year, and numerous hands shot up. They dwindled as he called out five year, 10 year, and finally a single hand was raised when asked who has been submitting pies for over 20 years. That hand belonged to local Marilyn Eddy, who said she had been competing for about 24 years.
Finally, the moment came to announce the winners. In the traditional category, the blue ribbon prize went to Hudson’s Adele Goyette, Debbie Pierce of Derry took second place and Paige Roark of Hudson took third place.
The non-traditional category had some tight competition, with the first place, and a year worth of bragging rights was Marilyn Eddy, who was so surprised, she started to tear up. Dorreen Whitley took second place and Cassie Ulliani of Derry taking home third place.
“I’ve never come in first,” she said. After 24 years of competing she finally had her winning recipe, although she said she could never make again because once it gets published, everyone will know her award-winning secret.