Traditional, Dutch or a la mode, apple pie has been a staple American dessert since colonists brought the crisp fruit to the New World in the 1600s.
Amateur bakers can enter their own from-scratch version in the first apple pie contest to be held as part of the Castle Shannon Fall Festival on Sept. 28.
The pies will be judged on overall appearance, filling and crust flavor and the texture, color and consistency of the crust. Serving on the panel of judges will be Post-Gazette food writer Gretchen McKay and Castle Shannon Mayor Donald Baumgartner.
Each apple pie will be sold as part of a silent auction and all proceeds will benefit the Myrtle Elementary School Parent-Faculty Organization, said Kim Kanoza, organizer of the contest, which is sponsored by First National Bank of Castle Shannon.
"I think these contests have always been popular. People like to bake things and have that blue ribbon that says, 'Hey you did a good job,' " said Judy Trax Ross of Trax Farms in Finleyville. "They just bring you back home. It makes everyone think of their grandmother's pie."
Well-ingrained into American culture by the 1700s, pie became the highlight of country fairs and other social events. Requiring less flour than bread, the fruit-filled pastry could feed several people in pioneer days.
Today, pie is beginning to dethrone the cupcake as the trendy dessert, according to New York magazine.
A 2008 survey by Crisco and the American Pie Council found that 19 percent of Americans prefer apple pie over other pies. Other leading favorites include pumpkin, pecan and banana cream. The Pennsylvania's climate and soil provide ideal conditions for growing hundreds of varieties of apples.
This year marks the second attempt to hold a fall festival in Castle Shannon. The first was held two years ago when the region experienced an unusually early snowfall.
"We decided to resurrect it this year as a way to revitalize the main business corridor, from Castle Shannon Boulevard to Willow Avenue behind the fire hall," said Lisa Sciullo Goodyear of the Castle Shannon Revitalization Corp.
About five years ago, a walk through the community's downtown revealed about a 60 percent property vacancy in the once-bustling area, said Michael Warhold, founder of Castle Shannon Revitalization Corp. A group of community leaders created the nonprofit revitalization group to "breathe life" into the borough's business district.
One of the group's first projects was to place about 250 banners along the main streets in the downtown area with photos of "Shannon Heroes," community members who have served in the armed forces. The group also sponsors Project Outreach for Equipment and Medical Supplies, or POEMS, to provide medical items to anyone in need. With a grant from Treevitalize Pittsburgh, the revitalization corporation planted 19 trees along Castle Shannon streets.
The Castle Shannon Fall Festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Willow Avenue between Park and Poplar avenues. For more information about the apple pie contest: 412-561-7500.
Laurie Bailey, freelance writer: email@example.com.