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Great American Pie Festival – Marissa Tidey

As my sophomore year at Grand Valley State University wound down my Apple Queen duties were just getting started. I rushed through moving into a new apartment, filling out job applications and taking finals while at the same time packing to attend the Great American Pie Festival in Orlando, Florida. Upon arrival I was told the details of my agenda which included judging the commercial baker division (apple of course) and making an appearance at the festival in the community of Celebration, Florida. I was also informed that I may have the chance to meet Willard Scott from the Today show. Nerves have never hit me like a brick wall as fast as when I heard this.

Once I arrived at the competition Friday morning I met the committee photographer who wanted pictures of me next to the Michigan Apple display. He asked me about my schedule and I mentioned to him that I might be meeting Willard Scott. He then pointed to a room directly in front of us and said, ”Well here’s your chance, let’s go meet him.” Mr. Scott was pleasant and funny and I was honored to have the chance to talk with him one on one. After the commotion of appearing on the Today Show, my job really started. I was told I was going to be one of five judges in the apple pie division, judging no-sugar and crumb topping pies. Being the sweet tooth I am, I was very excited, but after about 10 reviews I realized that I had 16 more to go. After 26 pies I was ready to be rolled out of the Convention Center and was determined never to eat another piece of an apple pie until Thanksgiving. Just when I thought my pie eating days were over I was given four tickets to the Never Ending Pie Buffet at the festival the next day.

We arrived at the perfect little town of Celebration early the next morning where it was a hot Florida 92 degrees. My dad was excited about the pie buffet to come, but having had my fill the previous day I was actually eyeing the ribs down the street. As I walked from vendor to vendor I was quickly spotted by the bakers in the Tippin’s booth. They were so excited to get their picture taken with the Michigan Apple Queen for their website. They explained that they are based in Missouri but use Michigan apples in their pies so I was more than happy to give them pins and stickers to represent our industry. Legendary Bakers also use Michigan apples in their pies and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people I ran into that were from other states representing our industry. Many people called out to us just because they enjoy Michigan apples.

I would like to thank the committee for allowing me to travel to Florida to help represent our industry as well as the American Pie Council for the invitation to such a “sweet” festival. I had a wonderful time while I was helping, not to mention I enjoyed the beautiful weather.