PERRY – As American as apple pie sums up Saturday’s 28th annual Perry Harvest Fair where for the second year in a row apple pies were the featured guests.
And what good-looking apple pies they were, from the thick and juicy traditional pie that our grandmothers used to make to new versions including one that looked like an apple pizza pie.
The man behind the contest is professional photographer Gary Guisinger of Perry, who offered this confession Saturday. “I’m a closet apple-pie-aholic,” he said.
Many pie contests have been held at the fair, but in the past few years, they fell by the wayside. Last year, Guisinger and others reintroduced the idea, and this year they had 14 pies in the contest in three categories: innovative, single crust and double crust.
The judges were Audrey Patterson of Blueberry Point Chefs, Denise Harris, a dietary consultant with ties to the food program at Washington County Community College in Calais, and Georgie Kendell, who hosts international dinners at her farm. The women all live in Perry.
Asked why she was considered a pie expert, Patterson said with a laugh, “This is the second year I’ve done this. I must be an expert, they invited me back.”
Cooks from Calais to Pembroke brought entries, and again this year all of the contestants were women.
Neither Guisinger nor his wife, Jeanne, enters the contest. “I must say that my wife is a wicked good apple pie maker and she didn’t put one in either,” he said. Perry Fire Chief Paula Frost also did not submit a pie. “Actually, the firefighters were upset they had to work the bouncy tent, so they ate it,” she said jokingly.
But Jane Cook of Perry submitted two pies. She entered the apple pie pizza and a cranberry-apple ribbon pie. She said she learned to bake from her mother. She even revealed one of her mother’s secrets.
“She told me that when you put the two crusts together you’re supposed to wet them with water so they’ll stick and that’s one thing I forgot to do this morning, so I have a droopy top crust,” she said with a laugh.
The pies remained on display for about an hour before they were moved inside the Perry Municipal Building where the judges spent several hours smacking their lips and licking their fingers. One pie received across-the-board fives on crust, tenderness, texture and flavor from the judges.
The judges do not know until the contest is over whose pie they’ve been sampling. After winners have been announced, slices of the pies are sold and proceeds benefit the food bank in Eastport. This year’s all-around winner was Barbara Barrett of Eastport.
Pies weren’t the only attraction Saturday. Anyone looking for fresh fruits and vegetables would have found them at the fair. Karen Herrick of Robb Hill Farm in Alexander said she has participated in the fair for the past five years. She grows all organic vegetables.
There were plenty of Christmas gifts too. Table after table of homemade items were on display, including flower displays by Dan Robes of Eastport. His mother, Ginnie, does the arranging. “I grow them, and she picks them and puts them together,” he said.
Several locals artist were on hand, including Dot Turner of Sunset Cove Originals Fine Art Photography and Oil and Acrylic Paintings of Perry, who had some of her paintings and colorful photographs of the area for sale. “I live in a nice place to take pictures,” she said.
Connie Teschner and her husband, Allen, had driven up from Addison again this year. They were sampling the homemade chili. “It’s delicious,” she said. He said he enjoys the fairs. “It’s getting bigger every year,” he said.
And there was plenty of music., including Winona Small of Whiting playing the piano and her singing husband, Ellis, who performed a peppy rendition of “I’ve found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.”