As a new comer to the winters of mid-coast Maine in 2015, we were pleased to learn of a community event called Pies on Parade. Two years later, we are starting our preparations for Pies on Parade 2017.
Our first winter in mid-coast Maine (2015) was the worst winter many Mainers said that they had seen in 30 years. We looked for an excuse to get out of the house on a Sunday afternoon in late January. We decided it was a great idea to walk around Rockland and EAT PIE (Ted’s favorite dessert)! Despite the heaps of snow and cold, there were plenty of folks walking around Pie Town in search of the perfect piece of pie. It was truly amazing to see the camaraderie of the community. Everyone greeting each other in the street, asking each other if they had tried this pie or that, how many pieces did you eat, or what was your favorite. In 2015, there were 50 varieties of pies to try. Thank goodness each piece was a mere sliver.
History of Event
For readers that are not familiar with this great event, here is a little history. The Historic Inns of Rockland held the first Pies on Parade event in 2004. The event always occurs sometime close to National Pie Day, January 23. The American Pie Council created National Pie Day to commemorate Crisco’s 75th anniversary of “serving foods to families everywhere”. It seems quite fitting that the Historic Inns of Rockland chose the Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO) Food Pantry and Fuel Assistance Program as the recipient charity of this event. The Historic Inns of Rockland, and all area businesses that participate, donate the pies and their time. 100% of the ticket sale proceeds go to AIO. AIO in turn serves food and provides heating bill support to needy families in Knox County.
In addition to the pie eating event, there is a silent auction on the Saturday evening before and an “oil can” collection the month preceeding the event. All of these proceeds also go to the AIO Food Pantry and Fuel Assistance Program. To date, Pies on Parade and related activities have donated over $134, 000 to AIO.
Rockland,over the years, has staked its claim as a foodie destination in Maine. As I understand it, the event started off small but caught the eye of the Boston Globe. In 2007, the Food Network’s Bobby Flay visited the Pie Moms at Berry Manor Inn for an episode of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Today, a number of the restaurants that are recognized as foodie destinations participate in the event. It provides a nice way to sample a few restaurants, pick your favorite to return to AND help others in need at the same time. How can you beat that?
Pies on Parade 2017
In 2015, we participated as ticket purchasing pie eaters. After the 2015 event, we were “pie-eyed”. We wanted to be a bigger part of the festivities! In 2016, Hawthorn Inn partnered with a business in Rockland, Over the Rainbow, an amazing shop with amazing staff! Mim and her team work with AIO on multiple levels; participating in the AIO’s backpack program as well as donating knitted mittens and hats. In 2016, we baked 50 pies: 25 drunken pumpkin and 25 shiitake mushroom and leek quiche to serve at Over the Rainbow.
In 2017, we will partner with Over the Rainbow again. This year’s event is Sunday, January 29. It is on a no football weekend so that you do not have to miss a game! New Englanders love football.
We have not decided on the pies just yet. If you have a suggestion, please add it to the comments at the end of the blog. We intend to improve on our offerings from last year. We were overwhelmed with people at one point. I guess that is what happens when 615 tickets are sold for a three hour event. All good! This year, we plan on serving a savory pie that does not require heating (or find a way to keep them warm) to allow us to serve the pies faster. We understand that seasoned pie-eaters develop strategies to help them get to all venues in 3 hours and try all of the pies.
Tickets are on sale now for Pies on Parade 2017 and tend to sell out before the event. For event tickets, call 207-596-6611 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to make a weekend of it, check out the Hawthorn Inn’s Pies on Parade 2017 package.