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August 26, 2012

McKinney, Baker win ‘Best’ pie maker titles

DUNCAN — Delicious smells of of apple, coconut, pecan, chocolate and various other pie flavors filled the air in the judging room of the annual Stephens County Free Fair Pie Contest Friday morning.

Two people sat at the table on the stage, while pie bakers of all ages watched, listened to the judges comments and learned. But when it was over, only one adult and one youngster could each walk away with the pie titles of Best of Show and Best Pie Baker.

It was Julie McKinney in the adult category and Carson Baker in the youth division, for both titles. They are also both Central High residents.

“I’m just thrilled, this is the perfect country fair thing,” said Julie McKinney, who won Best of Show with her apple pie and Best Baker in the adult division. “It’s fun and I’m excited (about winning).”

No packages and no mixes, only made from scratch recipes are allowed in the contest held in the Fair & Expo’s Conference Center. Judging the adult contest was Marcus McEntire.

The aroma wasn’t the only aesthetic aspect to the contest as the pies looked almost too good to be real.

McKinney has participated in the contest for five years now and this year entered a total of four pies. She prepared each one the morning of the contest so they were still warm at taste time, a factor which McEntire commented on and said it may have helped her in the competition. McKinney’s apple pie was the clear winner above and beyond all other entries.

Unlike McKinney, it was Carson’s first year to compete. The winner of the youth division in Best of Show with a chocolate cream pie and winner of Best Baker was one of two competitors in the youth division and entered three pies.

“My mom helped me cook the pies but I had fun and entered it so I could win,” said the Central High second-grader.

Also new to the pie contest scene was Barbara Braught. She entered into the Open category in the adult division with her Banaffe pie, which received second place.

“I’ve been entering the jelly contest at the fair for five or six years, so I thought I’d branch out,” Braught said. “That pie is one of my family’s favorites and my youngest son encouraged me to enter it.”

During judging, McEntire said the pie, which contained bananas, was especially good and extra sweet.  

It was an entertaining event, despite a lower entry number than in past years. While in the past, there have been about 40 total entries, this year there was maybe half that number.

“With school starting the same week, people have been busy getting ready for — that is what we’ve heard,” said Brenda Gandy, OSU extension instructor. “Anyone from the county can enter, (the pie) just has to be made from scratch.”

Youth division judge Lisa Taylor, an extension agent from Jefferson County, has judged such contests before and knew exactly what she was looking for in the pies. She was pleased with what was entered in the youth division and glad that all ages are encouraged to enter. She gave several tips as she judged each pie.

“I love it because people of all ages can enjoy baking,” Taylor said. “I want to help them with tips for properly baking from scratch.”

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