If you were driving in Ballard and saw a stream of pies being carried into the Salmon Bay Eagles lodge on the evening of January 23, 2016, you weren’t losing your mind—you were seeing the guests of the 14th Annual Ballard Pie Party arriving for an evening of fun, savory and sweet pies, good music, prizes, and plenty of napkins to wipe the pie from their faces.
Fourteen years ago, Mary Schile started the annual event as a party to celebrate her birthday. Pie you ask? Mary holds the distinction of being an “American Pie Council National Pie Championship Judge.” That’s right: she judges pie bakers in national contests! Over time, the party turned into not only a celebration for Mary, but a celebration of National Pie Day.
That’s where the Rivkin Center comes into the picture. Mary’s good friend and co-host of the Pie Party, Sara Bennett, lost her mother, Pat, to ovarian cancer. The birthday party has since turned into a fundraising event to benefit the Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer.
My favorite part of the evening is watching the faces of the hundreds of guests as they examine the 200+ pies that are used to gain entry into the pie party. (If you don’t have baking skills, you can still get through the door with a $20 donation.) As guests exit the pie line, the A la Mode Girls are waiting with vanilla ice cream. Pie Princesses deliver new pies to the table all night long. It’s not a fancy party, but it is very fun. Longtime Seattle auctioneer family members Rick and Sharon Friel serve as masters of ceremony and give a running banter of good stories.
Last year, I baked the first two pies of my life and Mary judged them “exceptional.” I may be stretching that part of the story, but making a strawberry-rhubarb pie in January was a chore because finding rhubarb in January isn’t easy.
Aside from pie, the other highlights of the evening were the excellent performances by many talented musicians. I had only heard of some of the acts, but they all put on an amazing show. Sara Bennett is always able to attract great support from the music community. Some silent auction baskets had items donated by Pearl Jam and Chris Cornell/Soundgarden. Great baskets for the music enthusiast! Prizes raffled off included gift certificates and items from local businesses.
The Rivkin Center is extremely grateful for our friends from the Ballard Pie Party who put in so much work to host this fundraiser for ovarian cancer research. We eagerly await next year’s event and hope you’ll join our friends at the 2017 Pie Party!