October 26, 2005
While judges donned their black aprons on Saturday morning for the Eat Dessert First pie contest, Brian Shortt gave them a quick pep talk.
“Show them that you’re interested in what you’re doing, that you’re having fun – but take small bites,” he said.
Eat Dessert First brought out bakers who vied for three $1,000 prizes in best pear, apple and mixed-fruit dessert categories. The $10 entry fees and post-contest pie sales all benefited Helping Hands Against Violence, a Hood River agency providing shelter, a hotline and other services to women.
Shortt’s cheerleading of the judges seemed unnecessary, given their task of sampling 108 freshly-baked fruit pies and desserts. But Shortt was not taking any chances that the lure of sugar was enough to jumpstart the contest.
“One pie, one taste and, in true Las Vegas style, one winner,” he said to the volunteer tasters.
While Shortt gave last-minute instructions to the judging teams shortly after 10 a.m., the sidewalk along 12th Street filled with entrants and onlookers.
The tables lining the sidewalk were laden with desserts and the area around each participant was decorated with festive fall décor.
Shortt said the fourth annual event was markedly different than the first contest. At that time, the 12 entries had been crowded onto one table inside the shop and the winner chosen within 45 minutes. Over the years, he said the presentation of desserts has grown increasingly more impressive.
“It’s important that we promote our agriculture industry, that’s how this all began,” he said. “It just gets better every year.”
Shortt Supply, in conjunction with the Heights Business Association and other local merchants, has been coordinating the contest every year since 2002.
Shortly after noon, judges declared that Cindy Wesner of Collins Road won first place in the newest category, baked desserts. Ann Schlemmer of Hood River placed second, and Bill Wheat of Hood River “broke the gender barrier,” according to Shortt, in taking third.
Janice Chandler of Hood River, the 2004 apple pie winner, won the pear pie category, followed by Pam Regentin of Mt. Hood, who won the contest in 2002, when there was only one top prize.
Laurie Dancers of Lyle placed third.
Leslie Sullivan of Dee Highway took the top pie award, followed by Sharon Rust of Straight Hill Road and Melinda Springer of Lyle.
“Adding the open baked dessert category really brought out some special entries,” Shortt said. “Some of them were just stunning. At one point I got up on my ladder and looked out at all those great pies and thought, ‘just look at this’,” said Shortt.
More than the baking went well in the 2005 contest. Shortt praised the city public works and police departments for their help in paring traffic to one lane so that the contest area could be widened this year.
“Closing the lane off is the way to do it,” he said. It allowed for people to mingle and watch the judging and talk with contestants.
Another improvement this year was that all pie and dessert slices were sold. Following judging, the slices went on sale for $3 each. This year, they were also sold for $5 all-you-can-eat. Shortt said he saw plenty of $10 donations for a couple of slices.