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Jenny Bell Pie Fest Returns Alongside RV Common Ground

KERHONKSON – After missing a year and being missed because of it, the Jennie Bell Pie Festival will be returning to Kelder's Farm this Saturday, September 19, from noon until six. This time around, the pies and talent shows will be combining with the craft vendors of the Rondout Valley Common Ground Festival, making for a fun time on the farm for all.

This is the tenth Jennie Bell event, which is named for the pie-loving community activist of the same name. It was first run by the Accord-Kerhonkson Chamber of Commerce, but when that organization's membership agreed to dissolve the task eventually shifted over to the Rondout Valley Business Association. The festival has had a number of permutations over the years, and has even featured carnival rides in the past, but RVBA vice president Eric Roosa said that there was an interest in bringing Jennie Bell back to a more "country fair" feel.

That makes cooperation with Common Ground, which has tended to take place in the Stone Ridge area, a natural fit given that fair features vendors who celebrate local talent and materials.

The centerpiece of the Jennie Bell Pie Festival is, not surprisingly, pies. There is a pie contest with two categories, youth and adult, and the judges (whose identities are being kept secret, no doubt to avoid undue influence) will begin the difficult task of deciding which pies are best right away. Each age category will be awarded first through third-prize ribbons, and all pies will be eligible for best-in-show, which comes with a $250 prize. Contestants are expected to bring two examples of their entries, with one of them being sliced up and the other being auctioned off to help support the festival in future years. The judges won't be gluttonous, however, and what's left of the judged pies will be sold off by the slice, probably starting around 1:30 p.m.

Anyone wishing to buy a slice of pie is cautioned to get there early, as they rarely last.

In addition to whole pies, there will be a number of other items up for silent auction, Roosa said. Half the proceeds will go to the Rondout Valley Education Foundation, so it's a guilt-free purchase on all counts. There will also be about twenty-eight local vendors offering their wares, and visitors will have the opportunity to learn about beekeeping, maple syrup production, raptor rescue, and permaculture from local experts. There will also be free games for the kids, offered by the 4H and the Boy Scouts, and the Rochester Youth Commission will be holding a youth talent show from 2 to 4 p.m. in the afternoon.

The normal activities offered by Kelder's Farm, including miniature golf and animals to pet, will also be available during the festival, at their usual prices. Roosa was unable to share how Chomsky the Gnome will be dressed for the event, as that is also a closely-guarded secret.

Roosa said that the possibilities for future Jennie Bell festivals are "limitless," and that ideas such as pie-eating contests and pie fights are still on the table. Neither will be on the agenda this year, though, so it's safe to show up without extra napkins.

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