Fifty United Church is getting ready for another peachy extravaganza.
Twenty-five church members and community volunteers are baking more than 1,500 peach pies this week at the new Fiesta Mall Fortinos for the 47th Winona Peach Festival this weekend.
The five-shift process of filling, cooking and boxing the pies begins today (Wednesday) and will continue tomorrow and Friday.
About 35 to 40 people lent their hands to peeling peaches and preparing homemade filling for the eight, nine and 10-inch pies this week at the church.
Volunteers made the pastry for the nine-inch pies in April. They used commercial pastry for the eight and 10-inch pies.
They also made 512 jars of peach jam and jelly in February for the festival.
Church member Kathy Cushnie said the group that bakes the peach pies is mainly made up of younger people who are still employed and not always available to help with some of the other preparations for the festival.
“Busy, fun and happy describes the atmosphere pretty well,” she said. “We work around a large table in the bakery and there is lively conversation, along with lots of laughs. We are very grateful to Fortinos’ Joe Caruso, Sandra Zezza and all of the staff for making us welcome once again, especially as they are still in opening mode.”
The Winona Peach Festival is organized by a dedicated group of volunteers to help support 20 churches, service clubs and sport organizations within the community.
Each group is a registered charity or not-for-profit organization and uses the festival as a fundraiser for its organization by offering food products and games. Funds raised help churches to support community outreach programs, service clubs to tackle community projects and sport organizations to keep registration costs down.
Fifty United Church has been making peach pies for the event since it began in 1967.
Cushnie said the best part is being at the festival.
“We enjoy meeting the visitors to the park and seeing the pies and jam just fly off the shelves; we have always sold out,” she said. “We continue to do it because we are part of the Winona community and everybody pitches in. We do it because we enjoy working together and we feel we are making a contribution to our church and the charities we support.”
The church uses about 50 per cent of the money it generates from the event for general expenses and upkeep of the church.
The other half is divided between a local food bank, Inasmuch House, Interval House, Mission Services, Wesley Urban Ministries, United Church of Canada Mission and Service Fund and Angola Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Cushnie said the festival is a long-standing tradition in the community and is made possible through a number of dedicated volunteers and great organizations.
“We’re very proud to be a part of it,” she said. “The festival is a great fundraiser. The event is a great way for people to come together, have fun and support the community.”
Cushnie said while every year brings its challenges, the church aims to continue to bake up a peach pie storm for as long as it can.
“Every year, we wonder how long we will be able to continue; we are, after all, a relatively small congregation,” she said. “Some of our senior members are finding it difficult to do as much as they used to and the younger ones are busy with jobs and/or small children. Nevertheless, we hope to be part of the festival for some time to come.”
The Winona Peach Festival runs Aug. 22 to Aug. 24 at Winona Park.
For more information on the festival’s attractions and offerings, visit www.winonapeach.com.