Fort Riley, Kansas

 

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Fort Riley continues Fall Apple Day fest tradition

By MaKenzie Allison | PUBLIC RELATIONS STUDENT, KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY | September 22, 2017

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Some girls dream of donning a jeweled crown and a sash. For Pamela Quichocho and Maggy Gray, that dream came true this year. Crowned Pie Queens, the role is ceremonial and the duties include being the apple pie coordinators for Fort Riley’s annual Fall Apple Day festival.

     Available to the public, Fort Riley opens the gates of the installation to celebrate the Fall Apple Day festival Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Artillery Parade Field. The event shows the communities surrounding the post the workings of the installation. There will be games, food, activities, historical reenactments, music, as well as apple-themed displays and activities.

   Quichocho said she hopes to see several Kansas State University students there. She added the relationship between Fort Riley and Manhattan is unique from the many places she and her husband have been stationed.

     An integral part of the event is the creation, selling and indulgence of apple pies. The Fall Apple Day festival is the autumn open house on post and the pies have a tie in the history of the installation.

     These pies are from a recipe passed down by Libby Custer, wife of then Gen. George Custer. History suggests Libby would harvest apples from trees on the post and bake pies to celebrate the return of her husband from his military duties. While the recipe remains a secret, this historic tradition is preserved through the work of the “Pie Queens,’’ or women selected to organize and ensure the pie-making process is carried out.

     Each year nearly 1,500 pies are made and sold. An assembly line style event takes place so the recipe remains a secret. Each element of the pie is added by another station in an assembly line formed by volunteers within the community. The pies are made by community members.

     Quichocho said the sup­plies include 105 boxes of apples with 88 apples in a box, 880 pounds of sugar, 125 pounds of unsalted butter, 1,560 pie crusts, 355 pounds of flour, 25 pounds of cinna­mon, as well as necessary foil, butcher paper, gloves and pa­per towels.

     Gray added there is one 10-hour day of baking time. Four days prior will be allot­ted to create the pies. Several hundred volunteers ensure the baking of pies is a success.

     While this year has includ­ed unforeseen circumstances, including a doubling of the cost of apples, the tradition is still being carried out.

     “The important thing — the apple pies — need to be made,’’ Gray said. “They are a part of Apple Pie Day. It’s a tradition — a legacy. It’s part of something bigger now. Those pies will be there repre­senting, no matter what.’’

     The event provides a so­cial opportunity, as well as a unique learning experience for the community. For the pie queens, it provides a unique opportunity to bridge the military community and the public.

     “This event brings the com­munity together,” Quichocho said. “It allows people to get to know each other.”

     The community can get in­volved with the event in sever­al ways. After obtaining a food handler’s license, participants can sign up for shifts to assist in the baking process. Attend­ing and interacting with post visitors on the day of the event is another way to get involved.

     Lastly, participants can purchase food, memorabilia and more at the event. Pies were sold via presale and also can be purchased for $13 at the event. Additionally, festival goers can purchase pie by the slice for $3 or àl a mode for $4. Participants accessing the post will need state-issued identifi­cation to come onto the fort. Drivers also must have a copy of their vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

 

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