N.H. Farm Museum pie fest had the taste of a winner

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Milton Police Officer Andrea Reid lifts her arm as she declares the winner in a hard-fought kids' pie-eating contest Sunday at the Farm Museum on White Mountain Highway in Milton. (Lebanon Voice photos)

Simple Simon met a pieman,

Going to the fair;

Says Simple Simon to the pieman,

Let me taste your ware.

Says the pieman to Simple Simon,

Show me first your penny;

Says Simple Simon to the pieman,

Indeed I have not any.

MILTON - It was a little more than a penny to get into the New Hampshire Farm Museum's Eighth Annual Great New Hampshire Pie Festival on Sunday, more like 10 bucks, but that was a mere pittance considering you got to sample a smorgasbord of pies made by some of the region's best bakers.

And there was entertainment to boot, the highlight being a children's pie-eating contest in which kids - with their hands behind their back - tried to be the first to gobble, lick and slurp up an entire small-size apple pie out of its tin.

Under the watchful eye of Milton Police Officer Andrea Reid, youngsters dive into the children's pie-eating contest Sunday at the New Hampshire Farm Museum.

Of course, you needed someone to referee the chaos about to ensue, so Farm Museum Director Mark Foynes chose Milton Police Officer Andrea Reid to make sure the rules were followed and to declare the winner.

What followed was about six minutes of pure pie-eating bedlam as about a dozen youngsters literally dove into their purpose, nosing out flakes of crust, gooey apples and filling to beat the band as parents frantically clicked pictures and took videos from smartphones.

Lucas Milne, 8, of Portsmouth took the gold, edging out nine-year-old Cameron Lee of Northwood and winning a $25 gift certificate to Lone Oak Ice Cream of Rochester.

As he wiped filling off his face, Milne talked about his strategy.

"You have to get it out of the silver thing," he said, referring to the tin pie plate.

Lee, who won a $15 gift certificate to Lone Oak, had a simpler take on how he took second.

"I shoved my face in it and licked it out," he said.

Milton Police Cpl. Andrew Magargee took his judging job seriously at the Farm Museum apple pie table judging station.

But don't think the kids were having all the fun. Milton Police Cpl. Andrew Magargee, a judge at the apple pie table, was relishing his role as arbiter of the apple pie that would go home with the bragging rights. Magargee said all the pies were good, but he felt confident judges would be able to narrow the entrants to the top three.

"It's got to have a good flaky crust, not overbaked, not under-baked," Magargee opined as he chewed on a small bite. "And a big dome on the top where the apples are, and where they sink down in, a nice even top."

Apple pies were the only fruit pie that claimed their own category. The others were fruit (non-apple), nonfruit like cream pies and savory (or meat), for which we saw only one entrant.

There was also a table of contributed pies manned by Mary Henderson, a six-year Farm Museum board of trustees, lifelong Milton resident and granddaughter of renowned Emma Ramsey, for whom Town Hall is named after.

Shelley Cicchetto and Richard Ashline of Gonic are served up some bumble bee pie by Farm Museum Trustee Mary Henderson.

"This is a phenomenal place and a phenomenal fund-raiser," Henderson said as she doled out pies of all types on paper plates.

Henderson said the pies were donated by all sorts of restaurants throughout the region and by individuals as well who sought no publicity or fanfare but only wanted to help the museum.

Among the pies at her table were some of the best, including an almond shortcake pie and a brownie pie that went within minutes of the festival's opening.

At her table there was also a delicious rhubarb pie, a regional favorite, and a bumble bee pie filled with a multitude of different berries.

"It's delicious," agreed Shelley Cicchetto and Richard Ashline of Gonic after tasting the bumble bee pie.

Foynes, in his first year as director of the New Hampshire Farm Museum, said he was thrilled with the turnout, numbering well into the hundreds halfway through the festival.

He said there would be four division winners and one best-in-show, the award of which would be called the Louise Hoage Memorial Award, named for a longtime perennial winner in the event up until her death last year at the age of 92.

She left a bequest to the museum to help fund educational programs, Foynes said, noting that the first of many school outings to the Farm Museum are coming up soon.

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