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Sweet tooths gather at pie festival

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Brooke Grasso
Editor at Large

Pie, cinnamon rolls, donuts and other sweet treats filled the streets of the Claremont Village March 17 for the sixth annual Claremont Pie Festival.

More than 8,000 people came out to enjoy the festival’s pie baking contest, live music, a recipe card hunt, pie eating contest, artisan vendor booths and classic car show.

“This is fantastic, we don’t have rain, there is lots to do today and we will make sure everyone is hosed off,” Randy Lopez, Claremont Chamber board member said before the pie eating contest. “No one has been to Coney Island eating hot dogs prepping for this right?”

During the contest, cream pies were laid out for participants to eat as fast as they could without using their hands. By the end of the contest, their faces were nearly unrecognizable and covered in pie.

“This is a game of skill and precision,” Lopez said.

Bob Combe of Rancho Cucamonga won the pie-eating contest for the adult division. He was the first one to sign up for the contest.

“It was horrible, you just want to throw up,” Combe said. “When I heard someone was flipping their tin, I flipped my tin to get the crust out of the bottom, I had to keep pulling it to the edge with my nose.”

Combe’s wife plays ukulele for the Rancho Strummers, a musical group that performed live at the event and he is a member of Cal Rod, the organization that put on the classic car show. This was their third year attending the Pie Festival.

“The goal of the event is to bring people into the village and expose them to all of our stores, that is always our goal,” Joan Bunte, Pie Festival committee member and resident of Claremont since 1965 said.

“And to have fun,” Sonja Stump, committee member, added.

Bunte and Stump have been committee members for all six Festivals. Joan is retired after 35 years in the Village and Stump is a photographer with a business in Claremont.

To help with the committee’s goal of exposing visitors to the Village, the Festival hosted a recipe card hunt. Guests were encouraged to go store to store and collect 19 different recipes. Once participants collected the recipes, they were given a cover and book ring and left the event with a book full of new recipes.

The event did help Marten Degroot and his wife Jeanne from Wrightwood learn more about the community. They happened on the event by accident when they were on their way to celebrate their anniversary at the Back Abbey restaurant, a co-sponsor of the event, but said they plan to come back.

“We were just watching the sign over there that said there is a beer tasting event in June,” Marten Degroot, Wrightwood resident, said. “So I was leaning on her like maybe we should come back during that time too.”

Their first stop at the event was the pie tasting station set up by I Like Pie, another co-sponsor of the event.

The Degroots had samples of coconut cream, cherry and chocolate chip chess pie.

As festival goers walked through the artisan vendor booths they could sample pie, buy bundt cakes or even fresh strawberries from the newest vendor to the Festival. Stump said people come from all over to enjoy everything the event has to offer.

“There are some people we recognize from living here for so long, but there are a ton of people we have never seen before,” Stump said. “But that’s what we want. We want to introduce them to our charming downtown.”

Brooke Grasso can be reached at brooke.grasso@laverne.edu.

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