The Story of the Pie Ladies
The Story of the Pie Ladies
Adapted from the Monroe Evening News article by Caitlin Taylor Boron on Aug 4, 2018
THE FAMOUS HOLY GHOST LUTHERAN CHURCH PIES
Seventy-five years ago Holy Ghost Lutheran Church joined the Monroe County Fair, and have been serving delicious homemade foods like creme of chicken, hot beef sandwiches, and beef dinners. But what really draws people in are the famous Holy Ghost Lutheran pies!
About 6:30 each morning of fair week, a group of senior women meet at the church kitchen, eager to start baking pies.
Just shortly after meeting time, the room turns into a cloud of flour, with the smell of warm fruity pies baking in the oven intoxicating the room.
Supervised by Marge Steinke, a volunteer who has been involved for more than half of the years the church has been at the fair, the women prepare several ingredients the night prior, so they’re ready to go in the morning.
“When they go out to the fair, they’re still hot from the oven.”
“There are a lot of friendships here,” Kregel, 80, said. “We got a lot of women who Marge can count on every year.”
The volunteers naturally break into smaller groups, forming an assembly line of sorts to prepare the pies. Some women do prep work such as measuring ingredients or slicing fruit, while others make the homemade dough or filling.
One important job is rolling out the dough to create the pie crusts — a task often done by Juanita “Soupy” Komineka, 73, of Carleton, who the group calls their “top roller.” Komineka’s duties help to streamline the pie-making process.
“We all kind of work together when we see something that needs to be done,” Steinke, 81, said. “We’ve been doing it for so long it’s like autopilot.”
The team generally makes about 40 pies per day, Steinke said. They take about 45 minutes to bake, she said, with the church’s double-stacked oven holding about 20 pies each.
About 9 a.m., two additional volunteers transport the baked goods from the church to the fairgrounds.
The pies arrive at the fair’s concession at about 9:30 a.m., where additional church volunteers are in the kitchen working to prepare the church’s remaining menu.
Led by organizer Phyllis Blohm of Monroe, the pies are transported in the same wooden crates that were built by her grandfather several years prior.
To build onto an already-tiring morning, the women finish up their shifts by baking biscuits to be served with the church’s cream of chicken dinner.
The Pie Ladies honor the long-standing tradition of Holy Ghost Lutheran Church serving pies to the community at the Monroe County Fair, at our Lenten fish dinners, and during a special bake in the fall before the holidays.
In recent years, a Pie Queen (and/or Pie King) is chosen to represent the pride of Holy Ghost Lutheran Church and it’s traditions and is the center of our Monroe County Fair Parade display!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What pie flavors does Holy Ghost offer during Fair week?
Each morning, we fresh-bake homemade apple, cherry, blueberry, peach, and strawberry rhubarb pies for our customers.
Can I purchase an entire pie at the Fair?
Depending on availability, yes! Each day we serve approximately 900 customers, and there are times when we simply run out. But rest assured the next morning our team of bakers will be making more.
Are your pies really fresh-baked and homemade?
Yep! Every morning our team of bakers delivers hot-from-the-oven pies to the Fair, as they have for most of our 75 years at the Fair.
Can I get a Holy Ghost pie at any other time during the year, or only at Fair?
Yes! In fact, our Ladies Aid organization has a pie bake every fall around November. We also proudly serve pies at our Lenten fish dinners, and it comes with your meal purchase!. Please follow us on social media when we advertise those events!