Get apple pie, and more, at Sleigh Bells fair

·3 min read

Nov. 18—BOLTON — It's first-come, first-serve for apple pies — more than 100 of them — that will be sold at the St. Maurice Church Sleigh Bells Ring Christmas fair Saturday, Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the church, 32 Hebron Road.

Dorli Cloutier, fair chairwoman, said, "We have a bake booth with 100 apple pies that come in the day before from the kitchen. We also have 280 mixes, soup mixes, muffin mixes, cookie mixes, jams and jellies, gift baskets, pickles, apple sauce, and apple pie in a jar."

The pie squad bakes the day before, on Friday, so the pies are fresh Saturday morning. Prep work is done earlier in the week.

Betty Aitkin, who leads the pie makers, said, "We buy about eight baskets of apples from Johnny Appleseed's Farm (in Ellington). I cut all the dough and we roll it out at the church and assemble the pies at the church. I usually add about 10 and 20 extra pies for pumpkin and pecan. We bake it all at the church.

"It's the same recipe. It's called an old fashioned apple pie. It's the spices. We use a little bit of nutmeg and cinnamon. They come out really well. It's rolled out by hand, not by machine, so it has a very thin crust," Aitkin said.

A group of women usually takes three to four hours to peel apples on Wednesday, she said. "Then we have a group of nine. Two people on rollers, and an assembly of about six to seven people that assemble the pies. I bake them on Friday," Aitkin said.

"We have two very large ovens at the church. You generally bake 20 at a time. About six to eight hours. Then they have to cool and then box. That all adds up. It's a good 10-hour day before it's all said and done.

"I've been doing it since 1989. It's fun. It's fun to be with fellow parishoners for a single cause. They do a lot of good with the money they get," Aitkin said.

And there's other delectibles, too — cookies and other baked goods.

Cloutier said the kitchen also prepares a meal in the parish center, of hot dogs, hamburgers, chili, potatoes, beef stew, and soups. "The tables get pretty crowded. We'll also offer take-out."

Don't forget the arts and crafts.

The churchwomen make quilts, blankets, fleece, Christmas decorations, and other items, she said.

The country store, Cloutier said, is the biggest draw for shoppers, with about 40 crafters selling their goods.

She said the fair serves as a social circle for the parishioners who help make things and organize the event.

"We get together Wednesday mornings and visit," she said. "It's a good outlet."

The church will also have its annual "take-a-chance" raffle of 50 baskets with various items in each one.

"There will be ornaments and decorations for Christmas," she said. "Each basket is a different theme. There's a tin next to each basket and you put your ticket in the can," Cloutier said.

Approximately 1,000 people attend the event every year, she said. This is the 50th year for the St. Maurice Church fair.

Proceeds go toward church improvements and various charity activities the church partakes in, Cloutier said, including gift-giving programs, food drives, and whatever moment of need is brought to attention by the church leadership.

"It stretches the budget," she said, which will be extra beneficial this year because no one has been attending church in person this past year due to the pandemic.

"It feels good. We must be doing something right. We like what we're doing. It's an outlet for all of us to be creative and get together," Cloutier said.

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