Tips for hosting a successful pie party

The Asheville Retro Pie Contest is a private event, but creator Barbara Swell hopes others will be inspired to host their own food-focused gatherings for family and friends. Swell offers some ideas for creating a memorable party:

  1. Plan the contest at least a month in advance.
  2. Choose your categories.
  3. Provide prizes and have a theme. Our contest is retro-themed and bakers come dressed accordingly. Prizes generally follow the theme and are mostly donated by guests.
  4. The day of the party, register the entries. Include the baker’s name, pie name and category, and give the baker and pie a number. Place the numbered card with the pie name beside the pie. Provide a jar, pencils and slips of paper for voting in each category. Each baker should bring a knife and spoon so people can serve themselves a small taste. Pies are not cut until the hostess gives the signal.
  5. Everyone’s a judge. After voting, people can taste all the pies they want. Provide an activity during vote-tallying. We have live Appalachian string band music and a pie walk with donated mini-pies as prizes. We also provide beer, and guests bring wine, tea and other drinks to share.
  6. Create community. Although this is a contest, we let folks know that we’re here to have fun, and we honor pie as an art/food that creates community in a slow, old-timey way that’s in danger of becoming lost.
About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at

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