Apples take the lead at Minnesota's Murray County Fair
SLAYTON, Minn. - It's the middle of August, which means classes are about to be in session at area schools. The NFL regular season is about to start. A Labor Day weekend vacation is likely on the horizon for many.
SLAYTON, Minn. - It’s the middle of August, which means classes are about to be in session at area schools. The NFL regular season is about to start. A Labor Day weekend vacation is likely on the horizon for many.
Apple picking will almost certainly be a popular activity, too. Stonegate Orchard of Slayton will be ready, and the business was already all about apples on Thursday afternoon at the Murray County Fair.
The orchard hosted its annual apple pie contest inside Heritage Hall, which slowly began to fill as fair attendees waited patiently for the names of the winners to be announced. After all, it was pie a la mode time afterward, and that can be difficult for more than a few folks to resist.
Jenni Kirchner, who co-owns Stonegate Orchard with her husband, Jason, was no stranger to Thursday’s competition.
“This is our second year owning the orchard,” Kirchner said. “I helped the previous owners (of the orchard) with the contest two years ago, and also did it last year.”
As a table filled with pies beckoned the contest’s three judges, Kirchner explained how the results would be tabulated.
“They’re judged on appearance, flakiness of the crust and the filling,” she said. “They’re rated by three judges on a scale of 0-15 … and then everything’s totaled up.”
The chore of sampling several apple-based desserts -- there were nine entries in the best apple pie contest, and two in a separate best apple crisp event -- went to three female employees with Hospice of Murray County. Kirchner said the orchard approaches different county businesses each year to secure judges.
Wednesday’s apple crisp winner, Mary Ann Sieverding of Dundee, received a gift basket courtesy of Stonegate Orchard. The victor in the best apple pie event -- who Kirchner joking announced as the winner “for 10 years running” -- was Linda Wing of Slayton; she received a cash prize.
Wing confirmed she’d also triumphed in last year’s contest, but had by no means won title after Murray County fair for her apple pies. She had earned victories at other fairs, though, and she has a couple of inklings as to why she’s fared well.
“I bring it in (to the contest) warm and right out of an oven, which is probably key,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anything really special except there’s a good thin crust, like my mom made.”
Wing added that she doesn’t really make her judge-pleasing apple pie all that often, other than for fairs or occasional company. There’s actually another treat she’s more apt to cook up, she added.
“I probably make a chocolate dessert more often than pies,” she said.