Trinity Lutheran Church in Tyler began selling pies at the East Texas State Fair decades ago.
“Actually my mom and my aunt started it 34 years ago,” said Linda Kittrell, a member of the church and a ‘Pie Girl.’ “Prior to [my mother and aunt] an elderly lady made fried pies, but when she passed away they asked my aunt to make pies.”
Every year at the fair, Trinity Lutheran Church has a booth where they sell their Chocolate, Coconut Creme, Pecan and Buttermilk pies, either whole or by the slice. And though the fair only takes place during a short period in September, the church begins preparing months in advance.
“We start making crust in July, and typically we’ll work one day a week until we get to a [specific] number,” said Kittrell. “And I use the number of pies we sold the previous year as a basis of how many crusts we’re making. Last year we sold 1,069 pies, so we’re making extra this year.”
And making the crust is no small task. There are roughly 20 people who help throughout the pie making process.
“We have people that put ingredients together, people that mix them, people that make balls, we have rollers and then after the rollers get them we have people that turn the under and then we have people that flute the pies,” said Kittrell. “And we get comments sometimes where people will say, ‘I know they don’t make their own pie crust!’ but we do make our own pie crust, start to finish.”
After the crusts are made and assembled their either baked or frozen. They’ll bake the crusts for the chocolate and coconut pies and then freeze them, or just freeze the crust for the pecan and buttermilk.
Then right before the fair starts, they’ll do all of the mixes.
“We will have all of the ingredients spread out with how much we need of each one…and we’ll put all of that together in a bag and get it ready so we can just grab it when we’re ready to make it during the fair.”
If you ask Linda and her husband David what the best part of the churches pies are, they’ll be quick to tell you it has nothing to do with money.
“The mission aspect of the pies where we get to go out into the community and mingle and walk with people, that’s of the utmost importance,” said David Kittrell, Linda’s husband and a ‘Pie Guy.’
“We have people returning year after year to get pies and they look forward to it,” said Kittrell. “It’s just hard to express the joy that you see when somebody comes to get a pie and they’re so excited!”
If you’d like to pre-order a pie you can do it here. They’ll be available for pickup at the church during various times of the fair.
The East Texas State Fair is happening from September 20th-29th in Tyler.
All of the fun takes place at the East Texas State Fair grounds location located at 2112 West Front Street in Tyler.
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