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Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

A Dummerston apple pie (some assembly required).

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Dummerston puts its apple pies on wheels

With apple fest canceled due to COVID-19, church plans drive-in pie sale

For more about the Dummerston Congregational Church’s drive-in pie sale, visit www.facebook.com/DummerstonChurch.

DUMMERSTON—This would normally be the week when the basement of the Dummerston Congregational Church would be buzzing with volunteers in the home stretch of finishing the annual task of baking 1,400 pies for the annual Apple Pie Festival.

This year, the second Sunday of October will be a lot quieter.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of the Pie Festival, the nearby Newfane Heritage Festival, the Putney School Harvest Festival, and a host of other autumn events.

The pie fest, first held in 1969, is the church’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and attracts thousands of people to Dummerston Center every October.

But the church has not given up on making pies this fall.

Like everyone else this year who has scrambled to adapt local institutions to the pandemic, pie fest volunteers have had to get creative to preserve one of the town’s great traditions.

Instead, the church is organizing a drive-in apple pie sale for Sunday, Oct. 11, from 11 a.m. until the 250th pie is sold.

Patrons will have to drive up and get their pies — no walk-ups will be permitted, nor will parking be available.

The price is $15 per pie, and when they are gone, they’re gone.

You might think this model would be easier for the church, since its volunteers are making far fewer pies this year. The usual routine requires two weeks of baking in the church basement.

James Brown Jr., the pie fest organizer this year, says it is much harder, because the church’s justifiably vaunted pie assembly line is not in operation this year.

“We would normally have a bunch of people just rolling out pie crusts, or peeling and cutting apples, or putting the pies together so they can be loaded into the oven,” Brown said. “We don’t have that this year, because of COVID. It’s a lot harder and takes a lot longer to do when you have to do every step yourself.”

The assembly is decentralized this year. Volunteers come to the church, and pick up the apples, pie crust mix, sugar and seasonings, pie pans and plastic bags, and a carrying crate — everything needed to make and transport six finished pies.

Once assembled, the pies are then brought to the church to be baked, then cooled down and frozen for the big day.

“It’s not going to be same, but at least we can still keep some of the tradition alive,” Brown said.

If you miss out on getting an apple pie on Oct. 11, Brown said, the church plans another pie sale just before Thanksgiving Day, with apple and pumpkin pies likely among the offerings.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #582 (Wednesday, October 7, 2020). This story appeared on page B1.

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