Since about 1923, First Lutheran Church has been serving fresh, homemade pies of various flavors to fair-goers looking for a sweet treat. That tradition is still going strong in 2014 as the church is still serving their pies at the North Dakota State Fair.
The stand at the fair, which is operated almost solely by volunteers, has six kinds of pies for sale, all made from scratch, including lemon, strawberry, sour cream and raisin, rhubarb, apple and peach. They also sell other items like chili burgers, burgers, bars, beans, chili, potato salad, onion rings, fries, salads, brownies and various beverages.
However, the food stand's biggest seller is the pie. Cindy Wilhelm, pie chairwoman for the First Lutheran Church food stand, said an average of 60 pies are made each day for the State Fair, some days more and some days fewer.
People sit at nearby tables next to First Lutheran Church’s fair stand at the North Dakota State Fair on Monday afternoon. The big seller at the stand is their fresh, homemade pie, with six varieties available.
"It's a well-oiled machine," she added, about the volunteer workers who make the pies early each morning. There are up to 25 people working in the church kitchen and everyone knows what they're doing, Wilhelm said. "They're a wonderful group to work with."
Three women call for volunteers for pie-making, Wilhelm said. There's also someone who makes the pie crusts, as well as people who roll the dough, peel the fruit, fill the pie crusts, and flute the edges of the crusts, she continued. One person does the timing, Wilhelm said, and she puts the pies in the oven, takes them out and gets them packed up.
The most popular flavor of pie has been peach, Wilhelm said, followed by rhubarb. "All of them sell," she added. Apple has been popular, too, Wilhelm said, but the popular flavor can vary each day.
On Monday afternoon, the popular pie flavor of the day was peach, according to First Lutheran Church member Else-Marie Nelson, who was taking orders at the front counter. "We've sold a lot of peach pie," she said. "That's been the most popular today."
While the work staff at the First Lutheran Church stand is almost all volunteer, the proceeds from the stand goes to the church's youth group, the First Lutheran Church Women and to the church itself.
The First Lutheran Church food stand is located on the food midway and will have homemade pies for sale during the North Dakota State Fair.