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As American as apple pie

On a chilly Wednesday night in early October, the small parking lot of the North Hominy Community Center in Haywood County is packed out.

There isn’t a space to be found, and inside the center, the back porch kitchen is just as full. It’s a pie-making night, an autumnal tradition for more than 25 years, according to Geneva Worley, the center’s president.

Thirteen volunteers fill spots on an efficient assembly line, turning out the pies that they will sell at this year’s North Hominy Apple Festival on Saturday, Oct. 16. The proceeds they generate from the 2,000 pies and 100 gallons of apple butter they put up for sale will help keep their food pantry and community center running for another year.

The assembly line is noisy with the click of rolling pins and the chattering laughter of old and new friends. Some of the volunteers have been lending a hand since the endeavor started, and some saw a sign outside soliciting pie-making help and are there for an inaugural visit.

“I grew up in this community,” says Barbara Moore. “My mom used to come and she got me started.”

It was another mother — Francis Clark’s — who taught the pie-makers their craft all those years ago, and the recipe hasn’t been tweaked much since then. The staples of the legendary pies are White Lily flour, Crisco and 15 bushels of Rome or Wolf Creek apples.

The community center — once a filling station — now serves as both community club and food pantry, which served 1,710 people last year, according to Kay Brogdon, who is helping vice president Jim Allen man the counter full of fryers, gently turning the golden pies before they’re racked and wrapped by more volunteers.

They can churn out 300 to 400 pies in about three hours, and they gather several nights in the run-up to the festival, stockpiling the turnovers and packing the center’s freezers to the brim.

Sandy Thomas, who is both the center’s treasurer and, this particular evening, pie wrapper, says that they hope to generate $5,000 with the fundraiser every year, between the pies and jars of slow-cooked apple butter that line the center’s walls, waiting to be opened and enjoyed by festival patrons.

Worley and the others say they come out and give their time and energy to support their local community and keep the center running, but, she admits, they have to reward themselves a little for such hard work.

“At the end of the night, we all get together and have a pie,” she says, laughing a little. But she’s confident that, when the festival rolls around, there will be plenty left for everyone else.


Want to go?

The North Hominy Community Center apple festival starts at 7 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 16. Homemade farm-style breakfast featuring fried apple pies, apple butter, apple jelly, grits, bacon, country ham, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, slice tomatoes, coffee and juice will be served for $7. Located on Newfound Road north of exit 33 on I-40.

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