The Pie Festival. It’s the event that has brought fame and visitors - from both across the state and nationwide - to tiny Pie Town, New Mexico, for the last 39 years, and it happens this weekend.
Originally a modest community event, the Pie Festival has evolved into so much more.
The Pie Town Post Office serves roughly 40 families in town and about 200 families on the surrounding ranches and subdivisions, but every year on the second Saturday in September the population mushrooms, when several hundred visitors come for the annual Pie Festival in Jackson Park. Besides, of course, lots of pie, horseshoes, horned toad races, pie eating contests, games for children, live music, the crowning of the Pie Queen, plus dozens of vendors make this a can’t miss tradition for over seventy years.
For runners, the Pi 5K Fun Run returns this year, with registration bright and early at 8 a.m.
It’s a short 3.14 mile run/walk on a dirt road along the Continental Divide, which involves some hills. “It is a fun run, so participants can run to compete or run or walk to achieve their own individual goals.”
This year’s Pie Festival is raising funds for new playground equipment to replace our old, not very safe, home-built steel swing set and slide.
Pie Town has been known for pies since the 1920s, when World War I veteran Clyde Norman began selling dried apple pies at a little stand at the Continental Divide on U.S. 60, then known to travelers as the Coast to Coast Highway. A small community sprang up and residents started campaigning for a post office in “Pie Town.” However, the U.S. Postal Service felt the name was beneath the dignity of the department, but locals persisted and in 1927 the name Pie Town became official.
Today’s Pie Town hosts three pie places, the Pie Town Café, the Pie-O-Neer, and The Gathering Place, which also sells everything from saddles to jewelry.
Over the last few years Pie Town has been garnering a lot of attention, partially because of the success of the short documentary “The Pie Lady of Pie Town,” a hit at film festivals from Hollywood to Europe. The film is the work of photographer and artist Jane Rosemont of Santa Fe, and profiles pie maven Kathy Knapp of The Pie-O-Neer, who left a career in marketing to move with her mother from Dallas to Pie Town, where her family had acquired the closed-down Candalaria’s Trading Post in 1995. The Pie-O-Neer has been open selling homemade pies since 2004.
The festival is put together by the non-profit Pie Town Rising Stars, a community group dedicated to restoring, preserving and improving the historic town of Pie Town. “Proceeds will go to improve Pie Town's infrastructure and help make Pie Town a visitor friendly, prosperous travel destination,” say organizers.
Saturday’s schedule as of press time:
8 a.m. Sign in for Fun Run
9 a.m. Pi 5K Fun Run Begins
Concessions Open (Pie Sales, Souvenir Stand)
Registration for the Pie Baking Contest begins
10-11 a.m. Entertainment
10 a.m. Horseshoe Tournament Registration
10:30 a.m. Pie Contest Entry Closes. Pie viewing.
10:30 a.m.-Noon Kids’ games ($2 entry fee)
11 a.m. Pie Judging Begins
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Entertainment, Last Minute Trio.
12:30 p.m. Announcement of Pie Baking Winners
12:30 p.m. Announce Fun Run Results
1:30 p.m. Crowning of Pie Festival Queen and King
2 p.m. Pie Eating Contests Begin (Fees: 6 and under $3; 7-15 $5; 16 and up $10)
2-3 p.m. Entertainment: Desert High Players, Celtic band
3:30 p.m. Horned Toad Races on the Basketball Court
3:30-4:30 p.m. Entertainment: Teri Sunflower, folk singer
4 p.m. Pie and Souvenir Concessions Close
5-6 p.m. Entertainment: Why Knot (Martha and Steve Cather, Jim Ruff)
7-11 p.m. Pie Festival Dance, music by Stillwater
Pie auction throughout the evening
Pie Town is on Highway 60 is 83 miles due west of Socorro, or as pie baker Knapp says, “Pie Town is a long drive from anywhere, but it is well worth the journey!”