ILWACO - A slice of pie and a cup of joe; you can't get much better than that. Thanks to the American Association of University Women, that treat has become a real tradition at the Cranberrian Fair.
The AAUW has been a part of the annual harvest celebration for almost 20 years. The women have sold goodies to raise money for various benefits that the group supports - including scholarships and grants for local graduating senior girls and a beginning literacy project which gives books to newborn babies.
The AAUW started out with cranberry baked goods - muffins, breads - and then moved onto a cranberry granola mix. Then about 10 years ago they came a cross a recipe for cranberry peach pie.
"It went over so much better then the baked goods," said Marjorie Beard, one of the organizers of the pie sale.
Cranberry Peach pie2 pie crusts (one for pan and one for top)
3 cups cranberries
1 can sliced peaches (29 .oz)
1.5 cups sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup toasted almonds (chopped)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain and save 1 cup of syrup from canned peaches. Cut peaches into chunks. Combine cranberries and 1 cup peach syrup in saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until berries burst. In a small mixing bowl combine the sugar and cornstarch. Mix and add to hot berry mixture. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat and add peaches and almonds. Pour into pastry lined pie dish. Slice pastry for top into strips. Criss-cross on top and seal. Bake for approximately 35 minutes.
Another AAUW member, Edie Shire, got the recipe from the WSU extension service office on Cranberry Road, where she worked for 25 years.
"The peach sort of takes the tartness off the cranberries," she said. "A lot of people don't like cranberries, but they like that pie."
They said at first they had to do some extra salesmanship to sell the pie because people were apprehensive of just how tart it would be. But once they got people hooked, there were no problems.
"Now people sort of count on us," said Shire. "And we do convince people that don't like cranberries to try our pie. We do a little selling down there with that."
"Well, people like it," said Beard of the pies, "and it looks good. It smells good. It's been very, very popular."
Beard said that many of their customers buy whole pies in order to freeze them for the holidays. The AAUW give 100 percent of the profits they make from the pie sale to their benefits, on average just over $1,000.
They make 90 pies each year, but how many do they actually sell?
"Every last one of 'em," said Beard.
They sell a slice of pie with a cup of coffee for $2.50, and a whole pie for $15. They are there all three days of the event, located just inside the entry to the show room.
Preparing nearly 100 pies is not cheap. And since they give away all their profits, the cost of preparation comes from the members.
"Out of our pockets, it's all donations," said Beard.
But they do receive some help. In a long standing agreement with a member who has since passed on, Cranguyma Farms donates nearly 50 pounds of cranberries each year.
Over a dozen women came out last week to make the pie crusts which they will fill and bake the day before the Cranberrian Fair so that they are fresh. They will also make a few cran-raspberry and cran-blueberry pies as well, also made from locally grown fruit.
"It takes us all day to do 180 [top and bottom] crusts," said Shire.
Beard said that although they are a staple of the Cranberrian Fair, she feels that they are just a small part of the annual event. Those attending the Cranberrian Fair can also take a free tour, via shuttle, to the World Kite Museum, the Cranberry Museum and to watch the cranberry harvest at Cranguyma. Shire said that there is a push this year to move back towards the roots of the festival - more cranberry-related stuff.
"Last couple years it got away from cranberries per-se," said Shire. "This year, they've finally gotten back to that theme. It's not a craft show, it's cranberries."
The 82nd annual Cranberrian Fair will take place Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Oct 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ilwaco Heritage Museum. Other events will take place at the Cranberry museum and the World Kite Museum as well. Admission is $3, which also covers travel on the "Cranberry Shuttle."