Dummerston Apple Pie Fest remembers its late founder

For the first time since 1969, Gladys Miller is not at the helm

DUMMERSTON — The ovens in the kitchen of the Dummerston Congregational Church have been going full blast since Sept. 30 to make the 1,500 pies that will be sold at the 44th annual Apple Pie Festival on Oct. 13.

But this pie fest will be different from the previous 43. It will be the first one without Gladys Miller.

She died at home on April 26 at the age of 79. The wife of the late Dwight Miller Jr., they ran the Dwight Miller Orchards, which provides crate loads of Cortland apples that are the raw material of the pies.

Gladys Miller started the pie fest in 1969 as a church fundraiser. At first it was a few pies baked in her kitchen. Today, it's the well-oiled assembly line of volunteers that cranks out the pies in the church basement in the two weeks that precede the event.

“It's sad she's not with us, but Gladys left us with a pretty good organization,” said Bess Richardson, who served as a co-chair of the fest for about 15 years.

The assembly line is well organized. One person runs the peeling machine which peels and cores the apples. Tables of volunteers slice up the apples. Others make the pie shells and fill them with apples and a blend of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and spices.

Right now, Richardson said, the biggest challenge is getting more young people involved with pie making. This year, an extra 4 to 6 p.m. shift has been added for schoolchildren and their parents to learn how to make pies.

“It gives families a chance to volunteer before suppertime on school nights,” said Richardson. “If you don't teach the younger ones now, who's going to take over for us?”

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