In The Atlantic Community
Welcome to Crawford County Fair week!
In 1956, a little country church from Atlantic started selling homemade pie in a tent at the Crawford County Fair. Ladies from Fallowfield United Methodist Church baked pies at home, put them in the trunks of their cars, and drove them to the fairgrounds. Why? They wanted to earn money to fund missions.
The late Pearl Winkle had two ovens, so bakers would gather at her house. They’d take 10 pies to the fair and think they had plenty. But by supper time they’d sell out. The ladies raced home to bake more pies. In the early years at the fair Fallowfield sold about 25 pies per day.
They also sold baked ham sandwiches. Sandwiches were the real draw in 1956. But they stopped selling these because hams were too expensive.
In 1957, the ladies began baking pies at the International Order of Odd Fellows Hall in Atlantic. They purchased a large oven for five dollars from a lady who enjoyed Fallowfield’s pies at the fair. The church later bought an oven from Wesley Woods Camp. Volunteer bakers met at the hall at 6 a.m., 10 a.m., and 5 p.m. Volunteers built a permanent building at the fairgrounds in 1964.
Every year Fallowfield’s pies became more and more famous. The project was Annabelle Shearer’s suggestion. Annabelle spent some time at Wesbury a few years ago. On her way to physical therapy she mentioned that she went to Fallowfield Church. A man walking by stopped in his tracks. “It was just like he put his brakes on,” Annabelle said with a laugh. He turned to her and said, “Did you say ‘Fallowfield?’ So you must make pies.”
She still helps at the 10:30 bakes. I adore Annabelle. She is a doll. Her son, daughter-in-law, and three granddaughters help make pies and work at the fair booth every year.
After the 1985 EF-4 tornado destroyed both Fallowfield United Methodist and the I.O.O.F Hall, Our Lady Queen of the Americas Church opened their kitchen to us so we could continue our fair project. Their generosity was truly a gift from God.
1985 was also the year we quit making pie crust using lard. We switched to Crisco. At that time a lot of people, especially the elderly, objected to eating crust made with lard because they believed it was unhealthy. Lard had also become hard to find.
Between 1986 and 1987, we built a church with a kitchen and fellowship hall sufficient to bake pies for fair week. This is still where we make our pies today. We have two commercial ovens which hold 25 and 30 pies, respectively. We typically make between 1,800 and 2,000 pies during the fair.
You may buy pies at the church or our fair booth. They cost $13.25 each, and our flavors are elderberry, blueberry, blackberry, apple, Dutch apple, rhubarb, strawberry-rhubarb, peach, cherry, coconut cream, lemon meringue, raisin, and summer harvest.
In case you wonder what other pies we’ve made in the past, here are a few: pineapple cream, chocolate meringue, blueberry crumb, peanut butter cream, and pumpkin. We discontinued most of these either because they didn’t sell well or didn’t look good. For example, pumpkin is temperamental. It was hard to get into the ovens (it’d slosh around in the crust). And it was hard to keep the ovens a consistent temperature when we had to check the pies over and over. The inconsistent temperature caused the filling to shrink. It looked awful. So we quit making pumpkin.
And while peanut butter cream was a big seller, so many people have peanut allergies we decided it had to go.
By the way, a generous family donated a few bags of elderberries last week, so we’ll have more elderberry pies than I anticipated. But get there early in the week just to be safe.
Maybe I’ll see you at the church or the fair. Blessings!