“We are going to be eating some pie, y’all,” yelled Shepherd’s House executive director Mary Boyles to the crowd gathered for the 6th-Annual Pie Eating Contest for Charity, held on Main Street right after the Fourth of July parade on Wednesday. “It’s the best thing to do on July 4th.”
By the end of the event, Boyles was a bit more restrained on the subject of pie. “Everybody leaves with something,” she said to the pie-eating contestants. “For me, it’s a bellyache,” she said after helping one of the first group of toddlers finish off a turnover. “All that sugar in this heat.” She shook her head.
“But we made a lot of money for the Shepherd’s House,” Boyles added excitedly. “We were well over $10,000 before we got here today, and the registrations have been strong.”
Before the serious pie-eating got underway, Boyles presented Angela Shur, owner of Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies, sponsor of the event, with a framed photo of Shur and television weather forecaster Lanie Pope, who auctioned off a pie which raised $800 for the Shepherd’s House shortly after Boyles became executive director.
“Even though you’re a Yankee, we love you,” said Boyles, adding the $800 pie was her first indication of the powerhouse fundraiser Shur could be. That power was on full display Wednesday as hundreds of people gathered to watch pies consumed by people of all ages and under the harshest of circumstances, including extreme heat and with no hands.
Mayor David Rowe read a proclamation which proclaimed the “6th Annual Pie-Eating Contest for the Shepherd’s House” to be underway.
“Thank you everyone for coming,” said Shur. “No one leaves without a prize. That’s the way it goes with this contest. Have a happy Fourth. May you eat a lot of pie.”
Kids from one to three years old started off the competition, and when none of the tots proved up to a whole turnover in the time provided, parents stepped in to finish off the sweets in their young one’s stead.
Lemuel Farmer, age 2½, assisted by his mom Lisa Farmer, was the big winner with Maddie Killoran, 3, assisted by mom Kristin Killoran, coming in second.
In the 4-6 age group, Logan Buhagiar, 5, took first place.
“There’s still 2nd place,” yelled out a parent to a child who had stopped eating after the first place winner had been declared. The kid chowed down again.
Second place ultimately went to Gregory Jewell, 6.
As the 7-12 group took its seats — the first group not allowed to use their hands — Brandon Shur offered a pro tip to the competitors, “The more you get on your face, the less you have to eat.”
Asher McGarrah, 12, took the top prize in this group and Irene Jewell, 9, took second.
As Irene’s younger brother Gregory had previously placed second in his category, Irene considered why pie-eating prowess seemed to run in her family.
“My mom’s very good at baking pies. And they’re always super delicious,” Irene concluded.
“This is where it gets really fun,” said Shepherd’s house director Boyles as the 13-17 class sat down to eat full-sized pies, albeit with no bottom crust.
The trend of winners running in families held as first and second prize were taken by Robert Duplessis, age 15, and Nathan Duplessis, age 17, respectively. Their parents Shannon and David Duplessis were very proud.
There were no surprises in the adult competition. Christian Phillips, who has won in his age group every year since the competition began, devoured his pie before other competitors had even gotten started.
After the competition, Phillips’ mother Michelle Bowman, could not explain her son’s unbeatable skill. “He’s always loved food,” she said about the slim young pie-eating machine her son has become.
“Since the first one, he looks forward to it every Fourth.”
When asked if he had gotten a lot of practice at home, Bowman said, “I like to bake, but I don’t know if that’s it.”
After Phillips had totally out-classed the competition and snagged first prize, the real competition in the adult category was to see who would place second.
In another twist worthy of Mayberry, two of the adult competitors shared a name. Kristin Killoran of Bend, Oregon, competed side by side with Kristin Killoran of Winston-Salem.
It seems the two Kristins married the brothers Killoran, Matt and Pat, and thereby both became Kristin Killoran, said Matt Killoran, husband of one of the Kristins.
“We drove from Oregon to be here,” he said. “My brother is in medical school in Winston-Salem, and here we are.”
When none of the other adults showed any sign of being able to finish their pie, a tie-breaker was devised. Each of the remaining contestants was given a small turnover, and the first one to squash it down would take home the silver.
“Do we have to swallow all of it?” asked one contestant.
“Yes,” said Miss Angel, ” and show me your tongue.”
Hannah Hendricks who had been proclaiming, “I need to throw up,” minutes before while looking rather peaked, managed to rally enough to win second prize, beating the sisters-in-law Killoran in a photo finish.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.