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Apple Pie Baking Contest blossoms with flavor

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Ellen Keri and daughter Hannah, of Fauquier County, hug after being awarded first place in both the adult and youth groups at Thursday's Apple Pie Baking Contest. In the contest's history, a winning pair of mother and daughter has never happened. Kim Walter/Daily

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Queen designate Jazmyn Dorsett and her father, football great Tony Dorsett, sample pieces of pie at Thursday's Apple Pie Baking Contest at Marker-Miller Orchards Farm Market and Bakery. Kim Walter/Daily  

Fauquier County mother, daughter win competition

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- For some, it was the first time. For others, it's been too many times to count. But no matter what, this year's Apple Pie Baking Contest was special.

20 apple pies were entered into the competition at Marker-Miller Orchards Farm Market and Bakery in Winchester Thursday, with 15 entering the adult competition. The remaining five were part of the 16 and under category.

Contestants had to bring all ingredients and utensils so they could prepare their pies and have them in the oven by 10 a.m., with judging beginning at noon.

Brenda McDonald, last year's first-place winner, served as judge along with two others that were randomly selected.

"I'd rather be baking," she said of being a judge this year. Her winning pie came from a cookbook, and she'd been working on the recipe for a few years.

McDonald decided to judge this year's competition by taste.

"Looks can be deceiving," she said.

Betty Heishman, of Frederick County, made this year's contest special by including some of her German heritage.

"A friend of mine gave me this material that's at least 50 years old, and I figured, why not make it into an apron," she said. Heishman has been a part of the competition since its beginning in 1957, and has "only missed one year."

Though she's never baked a winning pie, Heishman doesn't seem to care.

"I'm just having fun," she said.

Dave Reynolds of Stephenson has also competed the last several years without placing, but said he's more focused on perfecting a family recipe. He said that this particular baking contest is unlike any other he's been a part of.

"It's much harder having to prepare and bake it here," he said. Reynolds boasts that his pie crust is different from all the others.

"It's real flaky," he said. "Yeah, there's a chance I could win, but I'm more interested in making my pie better."

Austin Henry, 16, decided to enter with a family recipe as well, and when it came to what made his pie special, he didn't hesitate.

"Great-granny H.," he said, referring to who the recipe came from.

Henry came in second for the youth group with first place going to Hannah Keri, 10, of Fauquier County. To add to her shock of winning, her mother, Ellen, placed first in the adult competition.

"I never thought this would happen," Hannah said, smiling at her mother. The pair used different recipes, and hadn't even tried each other's final pies.

Keri won first place in 2008, and took a year off, then came back. Now, she and her daughter, along with their cash prizes, will get to ride in both parades this weekend.

"I want to buy a new outfit to wear in the parade," Hannah said of her $50 winnings. This was her first apple pie contest.

Keri originally grew up in Frederick County, and said the contest was like "coming home."

"It's just a fun, wholesome event," she said.

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