Pie making tradition lives on in La Crescent - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Pie making tradition lives on in La Crescent


LA CRESCENT, Minnesota (WXOW) - In 1973, Prince of Peace Church in La Crescent sold their first pie for $2.50. On Thursday, a basement full of volunteers kept this Applefest tradition alive 39 years later.

"Every year I take a vacation day on this day," said Gary Beardmore, volunteer and pie crust mixing specialist. "I put it on the calendar every year and do it. And it's a lot of fun."

"It's grown through the years," said Shirley Rosendahl, volunteer and pie filling expert. "We got a lot of retired people, and men have started coming over the last, well, my husband retired 16 years ago. He got drafted."

Rosendahl has been making pies with Prince of Peace since the start 39 years ago.

"We didn't do it at the church the first few years, a couple of years we did it down at the school," said Rosendahl. "It was hard in the school. We'd mess up the ovens and then they had to have them clean Monday morning for school lunch."

Each year, volunteers bake and sell and astounding 500 pies in a single day.

"We have 500 tins," said Merridee Moilanen, volunteer and pie construction pro. "When those are gone we say we're done. But sometimes we sneak a few extra tins in."

But it's not just peeling apples and making dough.

"Sometimes I want to say "Nah, I don't think I'll go this year," said Moilanen. "Because it is a lot of work. There's a lot of behind the scenes work.  Somebody had to put those boxes together, somebody had to clean the kitchen. A whole group made crust last night."

Since the 1970s, pie sales have raised an estimated 100 thousands dollars. All of this money is given back to the church or the community. This, and the fellowship, are the two main reasons people come back to help year after year.

"Oh, just the enjoyment," said Rosendahl. "Working with all the people and knowing we're doing a good thing. Because the money goes to charitable things, a little now and then to the church for a project, special project, but mostly we give it out into the community."

At the end of the day volunteers are looking forward to putting their feet up.

"See, I'm too busy sitting at a desk all day," said Beardmore. "I need to get off my feet! My hands don't hurt. It's my feet!"

"Probably time for a coffee break!" chipped in Rosendahl.

"We'll take extra helpers all the time!" said Beardmore. "Anybody who wants to help, gladly do it. Every year it's the Thursday before Applefest, Prince of Peace Church. It's always a lot of fun."

35 bushels of apples were used to make all 500 of the pies. That's around 1,500 pounds of apples total. And all of them were donated to the church by growers in the La Crescent Area.

Every year, all 500 pies sell out by the end of the day. And the sooner you make it to the church, the more likely you will be to get one!

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