Getting one of the famous homemade cherry pies at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s annual Cherry Festival requires precise planning — and setting an early alarm.
Niagara Falls resident Barbara Perault says she was never one of the fortunate ones to go home with a pie — until this year.
At 10:02 a.m. on Saturday at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Perault was the last person to get a ticket for a freshly baked pie.
“I’m so excited. I feel like I won the lottery,” she said with a big smile.
To ensure they got one or two of the $22 pies, many people lined up on the sidewalk along Byron Street for nearly an hour before the gates opened at 9 a.m.
The fresh pies usually sell out quickly – on Saturday, they were gone a little over an hour into the six-hour festival.
This year’s Cherry Festival had 749 pies all made during four sessions in April and May by a group of dedicated volunteers from the church.
The pies are split into three groups: freshly baked, frozen and individual slices served with ice cream.
Perault said in prior years she was only able to enjoy one of the single slices of pie sold at the festival.
Diane Turner, chair of the pie-making contingent, has been volunteering with the church’s festival for 12 years and said she enjoys the time she spends baking the pies.
“We make it a point to make it fun,” she said.
After the pies were baked in the spring, they were kept frozen in St. Davids, then brought back to the church the day before the festival and divided up into the freshly baked and frozen selling categories.
Turner said the baking takes up a lot of time and effort, so 749 pies is the most they’ll probably ever make.
There were 25 volunteers at the festival assisting Turner with the pies, she said, however, she added that she wouldn’t be shocked if there were close to 100 volunteers overall.
Coun. Gary Burroughs was one of those helpers: he was stationed under one of the tents selling cherries from Quiet Acres Farms.
“It brings us, first of all, all together. And there’s nothing better than a little stress to get people forced to work together,” he said.
However, Burroughs was also selling his own frozen meals at the festival — something he does all year — called “Meals by Gary.”
When it comes to the Cherry Festival, Burroughs said the festival is the community.
“It’s a local thing, sure. There’s lots of visitors and that’s fine, but more importantly, this is community,” he said.