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Nearly scrapped, Lexington’s pie contest returns with more to eat, plenty of fans

Kicking off the 4th of July festivities with lots of pie and ice cream

Laura Farnsworth, with Downtown Lexington Partnership, talks about the Great American Pie & Ice Cream Social kicking off the 4th of July festivities.
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Laura Farnsworth, with Downtown Lexington Partnership, talks about the Great American Pie & Ice Cream Social kicking off the 4th of July festivities.

Fireworks for the fourth, pies for the third.

Lexington kicked off its Fourth of July festivities a day early with the Great American Pie Contest and Ice Cream Social at the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion.

This year’s pie contest started with bakers dropping off 45 pies. The pies were then broken up into two categories: Semi-homemade and Made From Scratch.

In third place for Semi-homemade was Kathleen Fox with her Apple Streusel pie; in second place was Ruth Willoughby with her Classic Cherry pie; and in first place was Shelley Castellani with her Toasted Coconut Pecan pie.

In third place for Made From Scratch was Joan Kookendoffer with her Fourth of July cherry pie; in second was Anne Cameron with her Bumbleberry pie; and in first was June Crawford with her Apple Caramel Delight pie.

There was also a category for Prettiest Pie, which went to Susan Dance for her Peach Pinwheel pie.

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Susan Dance’s Peach Pinwheel pie won the Prettiest Pie contest at the Great American Pie Contest and Ice Cream Social in Lexington, Kentucky on July 3, 2019. The pre-Fourth of July contest features three categories: Prettiest Pie, Semi-homemade Pie and Made From Scratch Pie. Photo provided.

The winners get an engraved plaque for their pie win.

The Young at Heart’s Big Band Dixieland Ensemble performed some dixieland jazz as Lexingtonians lined up in 90 degree summer heat for their pie samples.

One pie-loving participant, Jim Gormley, said he has been coming to the pie contest for six years, and has waited over an hour and a half in the past for his piece of pie.

Mayor Linda Gorton said she was “keeping her eye on a piece of peach pie.” This is Gorton’s first Fourth of July in Lexington as mayor.

“I’m so excited,” Gorton said. “I mean, who doesn’t love pie and Fourth of July festivities? I think it’s wonderful, it’s a great event.”

Senior Event Coordinator for the Downtown Lexington Partnership Laura Farnsworth said there were more pies entered than last year’s contest, despite the homemade pie contest almost being scrapped.

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Pie waits to be distributed at the Great American Pie Contest and Ice Cream Social at Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, July 3, 2019. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

This year, it was found that pies must be made in a “commercial kitchen” in order to comply with the Department of Health’s regulations. As a result, the contest was just going to be a pie and ice cream social, nixing the contest. But a new state regulation allowed homemade pies to get back in the running.

“There would be no point in having a contest,” Dylan Jones, 17, said. “It just wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t homemade.”

Jones has attended the contest for the last three years with his family, sampling the homemade pie entries.

“Everybody has been such good sports about it,” Farnsworth said. “It really brought out some of the best pies I’ve seen in years. This is my 12th year doing this, and the enthusiasm was very high.”

Corporate pies lost, and homemade pies were able to take their win home this Fourth of July.

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Anna Willoughby, left, 4, looks at the pie offerings with her brother, Maxwell, right, 6, and cousin, Willow Wilson, 11, of Atlanta, at the Great American Pie Contest and Ice Cream Social at Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, July 3, 2019. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

Fourth of July festivities will continue into Thursday, with Lexington’s annual parade and festival.

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