BERWYN – Proksa Park will be filled with the delicious smells of freshly baked homemade pies on Sept. 29 during the first-ever Great Berwyn Pie Bake-Off, where community members face off to win the title of "Best Pie in Berwyn."
The event, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m., is a fundraiser for Awake, a Berwyn nonprofit organization that provides summer educational programs and community organizing activities.
Second Ward Alderman Jose Ramirez organized the bake-off after seeing something similar on a television show and thought it would be a unique fundraiser for Awake that would appeal to people of all ages.
“Awake was a little short on funds this year, and I wanted to do something different that would encompass the whole community,” he said. “I wanted to [do a fundraiser] that would bring in senior citizens. They love to bake and often have family recipes. There aren’t enough community events for seniors, and this is one they can participate in and win something.”
The event is free and open to everyone, but only those ages 14 and older can enter the contest to win money for first, second or third place. The deadline to enter the bake-off is Sept. 15.
While the public is invited to sample the dessert pies, three judges – Nancy Vesecky of Vesecky’s Bakery, Peter Fasano of Fasano’s Pies and Maggie Ragaisis of Maggie’s Creations Patisserie – will award the prizes. Entrants also will auction off one of their pies after the judging is completed.
All of the money raised from the pie auction will benefit Awake’s programming.
Lisa Polderman, a member of Awake’s Board of Directors, said the nonprofit did not renew a $100,000 grant it received in 2015, and it is in need of more funding. The volunteer-run summer program helps children retain the information they learned in school over the long break.
“We’re really excited and grateful that they want to support the work of Awake,” Polderman said. “We’ll be able to get to know more people in the community and make sure that people are aware of the programs we offer. We’re the only place in Berwyn that offers reading instruction during the summer, outside of the school districts. We help make sure kids maintain and grow their skills to stop the ‘summer slide.’ ”
Third Ward Alderwoman Jeanine Reardon, one of the event’s co-facilitators, said she’s looking forward to the bake-off, which she hopes brings old-fashioned family fun to Berwyn.
“We think it will be a good way to enjoy the last little bit of summer in a nostalgic way,” she said. “Folks like to bake things, and I think we’ll get a good turnout because things like this don’t happen very much anymore. And Awake has a history of connecting kids to resources in the community, so it’s important that the community knows about their mission.”
In addition to tasty pies for sampling, the event will feature backyard games, live music and entertainment, and Berwyn Arts and Music will provide free art activities for children.