JOYCE — The smell of fresh-baked blackberry pies will waft from the kitchen at Crescent School today as a small army of volunteer bakers prepare hundreds of pies for Saturday’s 2016 Joyce Daze Wild Blackberry Festival.
The festival, set from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Joyce, will include a pancake breakfast, about 45 vendor booths, demonstrations, live entertainment and, of course, a heaping helping of fresh homemade pies, said John Kent, 2016 Joyce Daze Wild Blackberry Festival committee chairman.
“We are kind of known for the blackberry pies out here,” Kent said.
“It is one of the main features of our event.”
During the festival, there is “a line the whole entire day of people waiting to buy pieces of pie,” said Tracey Grover, who is coordinating the cooking process.
“We sell slices of pie with vanilla ice cream.”
In addition to the pies being sold at the festival will be a pie contest, in which home-baked pies are rated by a panel of judges.
For the pies to be sold by the slice, volunteers on Thursday began mixing the pie filling and prepping the dough, Grover said.
“We will be making pies [today] and I am guessing it is going to be about 225 to 230” pies,” Grover said.
“I have two shifts of about eight people who will bake the pies” in the school kitchen, she said.
“Our volunteers come in and basically roll out the crust, put them in pans, [and] somebody else is scooping the filling in, putting them on the trays, putting the designs on top, putting egg wash on the top and sprinkling sugar on them.”
The volunteers “can cook 18 pies at a time,” Grover said.
“It is an assembly line that depends on volunteers.”
The pie filling is made from wild handpicked blackberries that grow in and near Joyce, Grover said.
“The Joyce Daze Festival buys them from different individuals,” she said.
About 200 pounds of wild blackberries were picked in 2015 and frozen fresh to make this year’s pies, Grover said.
“We use the berries from the year before,” she said.
Next year, there will be even more berries available for pies, Grover said.
“This year has been a huge good year for berries,” she said, adding the festival has bought “possibly as many as 400 or 500 pounds,” for next year.
“We are going to buy everything we can and the freezers are full for next year.”
Festival pies have been baked using the same recipe for decades, said Deborah Moriarty, festival media relations manager.
The recipe, created by former Joyce resident Mel Wilson, has been in use since the early 1980s, Moriarty said.
Wilson was a former minister at Joyce Bible Church, Moriarty said, and a professional pie baker who moved out of town about 10-years ago.
The recipe offers “great consistency,” Grover said.
“They are not runny, but they are not like cardboard.”
This year, it took about 150 pounds of flour and sugar, and an assortment of butter salt and eggs, to make the homemade crust, Grover said.
“We are a small community and small communities like to band together and help each other out,” Kent said.
“A lot of other communities here in the area are putting on their own show and this is something we like to do just for us” that allows locals “to get together and have people come out and visit Joyce.”
The festival is a shot in the arm for the Joyce economy, Kent said.
“We are pretty small, so it does help out,” he said.
“The money we collect from this goes back into the community, whether it is scholarships from a couple of high school students or to help out the Lions Club or the [Crescent] Grange with their programs.”
Depending on the weather on Saturday — weather forecasters predict a possible stray afternoon shower with a high of 64 degrees — Kent anticipates a few hundred visitors to the festival, he said.
“The weather is kind of iffy at this time, but as long as there isn’t a downpour we should get a good crowd,” he said.
During Saturday’s parade, state Highway 112 will be temporarily closed from its intersection with Piedmont Road to east of downtown Joyce. A detour route will be available to bypass Joyce during this time.
Here is the schedule for the one-day festival.
Schedule of events
• 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Pancake Breakfast — Crescent Grange.
• 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Submit pies for judging.
• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Clallam County Fire District 4 and Elwha Police Department equipment demonstrations — Mini Mall.
• 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Vendor booths open — Joyce Center.
• 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Automobile extrication demonstration.
• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Live entertainment — Joyce Depot Museum; fish pond/cotton candy/children’s activities.
• 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Blackberry pie sales open – Joyce Depot Museum.
• 10:30 a.m. — Parade judging – Crescent School.
• 11 a.m. to noon — Judging of the pies.
• 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Salmon bake – Crescent Bay Lions Club – Mini Mall.
• 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. — Grand Parade – state Highway 112.
• 3 p.m. — Raffle drawing.
For more information, visit joycedaze.org.
Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or cmcdaniel@ peninsuladailynews.com.