HANFORD — Thursday Night Market Place was crowded as usual, and among the same vendors, produce and entertainment, a new event took place: the perfect peach pie contest.
“We have some beautiful peach pies here,” said Shelly Johnson, executive director of Main Street Hanford.
This was the first time Main Street Hanford held a peach pie contest. Johnson said with the addition of Michelle Brown to the staff, they have been trying to come up with new ideas and try different things to entice people to participate in and attend Thursday Night Market Place.
The only rules to the competition were that the pies had to have homemade crusts and be made from fresh peaches. The pies were judged on crust, appearance and taste.
The judges walked up to the judging table at 6:30 p.m., ready to make the difficult decision. The judges were Hanford Mayor David Ayers, Vice Mayor Sue Sorensen and Councilman Martin Devine.
The judges sat at their designated table amongst the other Hanford residents enjoying their food, beverages and the live band playing. They were served the first round of pie and dug in, chewing slowly as they contemplated the flavors.
Looks of satisfaction remained on the faces of the judges as the second, third and fourth rounds were served by Johnson and Brown. They circled their scores on the scoring sheet provided between bites.
With each round, Johnson walked by the table carrying the pie the judges were currently eating, making sure they took the pies’ overall appearance into consideration as well.
When the judges were finished, Brown and Johnson began tallying-up the scores. The live band stopped playing so the winner could be called-up onto the main stage, but Brown and Johnson needed more time.
Apparently, there was a tie and a tie-breaker needed to take place.
Finally, Johnson made her way up to the microphone, judges in tow, ready to announce the winner.
The names Max and Ty Conorich rang through the speakers. The 12-year-old twin boys made their way up to the stage with surprised smiles on their faces as they were greeted and congratulated by Ayers, Sorensen and Devine and given their $100 cash prize.
After all the commotion, the winners explained their pie as having an all-butter crust, with a salted crumble and caramel sauce on top.
“It was really trial and error, I think,” said the boys’ mother, Jana Conorich.
“I made sure they didn’t burn down the house,” said Conorich, a self-described non-baker. “They cut all the peaches and had to mix the dough and mix the sauce and filling.”
Conorich said they didn’t go by a recipe and the boys dictated all of the proportions, including how much sugar and cinnamon they used.
“I think the caramel was a factor,” Ty said, while Max agreed and said he thought the pie tasted pretty good, too.
“It was pretty tasty,” Ayers said after the contest. “I didn’t know who the contestants were, but I thought it was kind of neat it was two kids [who won].”
Devine agreed, saying he was pleasantly surprised the two young men won the contest.
“I was pleased to see a couple of young guys interested in cooking and baking,” Devine said. “It was pretty cool. Good to see that — and their pie was delicious.”
Devine said the winning pie was his favorite because it had a great flavor and the caramel sauce on top made it unique.
The contest went off without a hitch; Johnson said she only wished there were more entries. Only four people entered the contest, but she said hopefully more people will enter if they decide to hold the contest again in the future.
The judges said they had a great time, and would do it again next year if given the chance.
“One of the most difficult decisions I’ve made as a councilman,” Devine said jokingly.
“It was perfect, just maybe next year we’ll have some Superior Dairy ice cream,” Ayers added.
As for their winnings, the boys said they would split the money 50/50.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with it,” Ty admitted of his newfound cash.
“Yeah, we don’t know yet,” Max continued. “We’re just going to spend it on random stuff.”