Sharing Shape

Community-building pie contest goes beyond sweet tastes

October 26, 2005

Saturday on the Heights was a delicious day on a variety of levels.

How do you eat 108 pies?

You start with one bite at a time, if you are one of the lucky judges in the “Eat Dessert First” pie contest, an event that one day each fall dominates 12th Street.

All those pies then disappear as the public snatches up tantalizing triangles for dessert at home or the office.

The pie contest, which this year expanded to mixed fruit desserts, was an unqualified success (see Pies Galore for details).

More than pears, apples, cherries, sugar and flour go into Eat Dessert First. Each baker plans and carries out her or his creation with loving care. Flowers, fine silver, table cloths, photographs, hand-made signs, even books adorn tables as contestants and supporters make statements about their pies.

Throughout, bakers are trading kitchen talk. The cooperation of the city this year meant that a lane of traffic was closed on 12th Street, enabling organizers to arrange the tables in horseshoe configuration, rather than one long line of tables with contestants standing with backs to the building as had been done in the past.

This year, people were able to walk around both sides of the tables and watch the judging and talk with the contestants. This added greatly to the community spirit of the event.

That interaction – people talking about how pies are made with locally-grown fruit – has always been an essential ingredient in the four-year-old event.

Eat Dessert First is now an unqualified tradition. It is not the biggest baking contest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Helping Hands Against Violence receives a big boost not just financially but also in terms of the exposure the contest gives to this deserving organization.

Thanks go to the businesses and other supporters — they know who they are — who make the event happen and fund the three $1,000 prizes.

It’s worth noting that most pies are formed in a circle, a shape that suggests inclusion and continuation. The community is fortunate to have organizations such as Helping Hands, and events such as Eat Dessert First, to remind us, bakers and non-bakers alike, that the needs of community service organizations touch us all. We are all included in ways, such as annual pie contests, of helping find solutions. And 108 pies is a lovely way to remind us of that.

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