Everything is just peachy

Pies entrantants #1 through #15 (9 in all, w/a few missing no-shows)
Blame the Russians for the trouble we had on our voting procedures at the 17th or 18th or 19th or some-teenth annual Peach Pie contest on Saturday, August 3, 2019 Collingswood Farmers' Market.  While we might not have had any collusion, we sure did have some issues deciding what pie deserved the proverbial blue ribbon.  Maybe it was: the fact that we had a lot of pies; we had too many entrants and not enough spaces; we had a few too many no-shows, taking pie spots away from people who really wanted to showcase their baking talents; we had a lot of eager judges; and we had a few too many over-zealous on-lookers who were so excited at the sight of 18 luscious fruit pies that they couldn't contain themselves to stay away from the judging table. Whatever the reason for the fractious morning it made for one of the more interesting pie contests in recent memory.
Pies #16-#25 (9 more, with more no-shows)
Difficulties aside, the eight judges had a peach of a time tasting all 18 pies and finding a clear consensus on which pies were to take home awards for Best Presentation; Best Classic Peach; and Best Anything Goes Peach Pie.  We gamely ate our way through the desserts and announced our findings as best as we could.  Having judged food contests for over three years now, I'll say that this was the hardest year yet to pick a winner.  So many of the pies were that good.  Many could have taken home a top prize on looks alone.  The bakers have really stepped up their game - but, as in past pie contests, we have some returning winners who really know their stuff.  As for taste, this year the bakers must have all consulted the Pie Bible Baking Book on award-winning tastes.  For the first time ever there were no odd-ball flavors or ingredients, no pie was too sweet; and no pie too overly seasoned with nutmeg (a classic novice baking mistake).    I'll  blame my difficulties on picking a winner due to the late night I had on Friday.  We hosted a Fire Pit Sip and Sit party at my house, and I enjoyed many Spicy Margaritas and stayed up way too late.  Tasting 18 peach pies with a hang-over would make it difficult for anyone to taste that many pies!

Winners for each Category Recap:



Presentation
1st Place - Robert Walker, Williamstown, NJ. Pie 7 Peachy Cream.  His was a cheesecake!
2nd Place - Judy Griffin, Cherry Hill, NJ.  Pie 23 Praline Peach Pie
3rd Place - Roberta Sykes, Haddon Township, NJ.  Pie 25 Plain Peach


Classic Peach
1st Place - Jane Walker, West Deptford, NJ.  Pie 24 Peach Perfection
2nd Place (tied) - Kathy Fleming, Atco, NJ.  Pie 17 Grammy's Peach Crumb Pie
2nd Place (tied) - Roberta Sykes, Haddon Township, NJ.  Pie 25 Plain Peach


Anything Goes Peach Pie (peaches with other ingredients)
1st Place - Robert Walker, Williamstown, NJ Pie 7 Peachy Cream
2nd Place - Sara Gates, Collingswood, NJ.  Pie 2 Gate's Blue Ribbon Special
3rd Place - Molly Haendler, Philadelphia, PA.  Pie 8 Molly's Ginger Peach Pie

I was able to snap all the winners' photos this year and a few winners walked away with two prizes - presentation and best in category.

From Top Left to Right:  

Robert Walker Jr., of Williamstown, NJ, representing his dad's (Robert Walker, Sr.) entry for Anything Goes. Pie #7,  Peachy Creamy was an anything goes category and he took it to heart, entering a peach-topped cheesecake!  Robert Jr. took home two prizes for his father, 1st Place for Presentation and 1st Place for Anything Goes.

Molly Haendler, of Philadelphia, PA.  Her pie, # 8, Molly's Ginger Peach Pie,  won 3rd Place for Anything Goes.

Judy Griffin, Cherry Hill, NJ, won for her #23 Pie, Praline Peach Pie, taking 2nd Place for Presentation.   A small snafu landed her Anything Goes Pie into the Classic Peach Category, making it difficult to judge for that category.  Hers was a clear winner in my notes - it was gorgeous with it's multi-colored floral motif and was perfectly crisp, sweet and crunchy all at once.  Judy is a returning pie baker and winner from previous years.

Kathy Fleming, Atco, NJ - Pie # 17, Grammy's Peach Custard Pie.  One of the two crumb topped pies in the contest this year.

Bottom Row, form Left to Right:

Jane Walker, West Deptford, NJ - #24, Peach Perfection.  Many Market-goers will recognize Jane's name, face, and fantastic pies, as she is a many-time winner at our pie contests.  She did not disappoint us this year, with a grand entrant featuring intricate lattice work of varying widths, along with peach cut-outs, leaves and peach rosettes.

Sarah Gates, Collingswood, NJ - # 2 Gate's Blue Ribbon Special.  Another crumb-topped special, Sara's pie garnered enough votes to actually tie for 2nd place, along with...

Roberta Sykes Haddon Township, NJ - #25 Plain Peach Pie.  Roberta also won two prizes, tying for 2nd place in the Classic Peach, and winning 3rd Place for Presentation.  Roberta is another returning winner, having been in the Apple Pie Contest.  Her pie was anything but plain, featuring a peach rosette swirled top, of peach slices delicately arranged in perfect symmetry atop her pie.  Roberta returned from last year's apple pie contest to take home prizes this year.

Our judges and our onlookers, along with a smattering of the scrumptiousness we ate.  It may look like all fun and games, but it truly is hard work having to taste so many desserts in a short amount of time.  Looks may win a prize for presentation but a good pie, or crumble, or cobbler, or even a cheese cake, will always get several deserved considerations from the judges, especially from me.  I am partial to the homey desserts and to anything that might stray from the traditional.  Over-all a great pie with a flaky tender crust, well-balanced without being cloyingly sweet, with a depth of flavor will  garner rave reviews.  

My choices for winners were: 
Presentation:
#5 - Susan Masarek Wilson, Collingswood, NJ - Summer Fruit Pie. I thought it was lovely with its intricate bouquet floral work lattice top.  # 23 - Judy Griffin's pie, which won a prize!  I loved the awesome colors  #7, Robert's pie, noting it was a real beauty.

Classic Peach:
#24, Jane Walker.  Beautiful, perfect crust and not too sweet.  The peaches were cooked well.  #15, Maya Kang.  I noted that it had a really good crust.  # 23 - Judy Griffin, again!  Truly delicious.

Anything Goes:
#10, Emily Thompson.  Emily, like her mother, Jane Walker, never disappoints with her baking talents.  Her pie had the looks, flavor & the perfect blend of mixed berries and peaches.  #11, John Magill. I thought it pretty and also loved the mix of berries and peaches.   #7, Robert Walker - who also won a prize.  Robert's was a cheesecake, not a pie but darn good!  

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