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Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off field narrowed to two

Championship round set for next week, with at least $1,000 in prizes at stake.

Evan Andrist on Sept. 6, 2022.JPG
Evan Andrist delivers a pie to be judged during the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.
Beth Bohlman/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Two bakers who have earned nearly identical cumulative scores throughout the first three rounds have advanced to the championship of the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.

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Caitlin Olson, of East Grand Forks, is a finalist in the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Caitlin Olson, sponsored by Hope Church, earned a semifinal win with “Blue Moon Pie,” her third straight win with pies that feature entirely vegan ingredients. Her pie – a sort of pumpkin pie made with squash – beat the pie baked by Brityn Proulx, an East Grand Forks resident and the only teen in the contest, whose third-round pie was “Pumpkin Spice Latte.” Olson scored 142 points to the 78 points compiled by Proulx, who is sponsored by Valley Senior Living.

In the other head-to-head matchup Tuesday, Jill Hanson’s “Double-Crust Luscious Key Lime” edged Evan Andrist’s “Chocolate Caramel Pecan.” Hanson, who is sponsored by Hugo’s, scored 141 points, while Andrist, sponsored by the North Dakota Mill, scored 130.

Hanson and Olson now will bake pies to be judged in Monday’s final round. Whereas bakers were not allowed to repeat a pie to this point, they will be able to repeat a recipe for the championship, if they choose to do so.

Although the competition is a head-to-head event and they have not yet met through the first three rounds, their total scores are nearly identical. Hanson has accumulated 351 points, while Olson has 350.

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“I’m surprised every time – surprised and grateful,” Olson, of East Grand Forks, said after learning Tuesday’s scores.

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Jill Hanson, of Newfolden, Minnesota, is a finalist in the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Her pie this week included a blue Hubbard squash that was grown in her mother’s garden. It continues her efforts to use locally sourced ingredients in the contest; in the first round, she baked a cherry pie using fruit from a tree in her mom’s yard.

“I’m trying to do local (ingredients) when I can,” she said. “I still have a few ideas.”

In the other bracket, Hanson’s winning lime creation featured a double crust – a regular crust lined with a graham cracker crust. Her crusts have been earning great reviews by the judges throughout the contest.

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Jill Hanson's Double-Crust Luscious Key Lime, submitted for the third round of the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.
Beth Bohlman/Grand Forks Herald

“I can’t believe it,” she said Tuesday. “I’m so happy. It’s just been fun – all of our neighbors and friends are watching and cheering me on.”

And they’ve been tasting, too. Hanson now has baked 18 pies overall while preparing for the contest, meaning there has been plenty to go around.

“They say they’ll have pie withdrawals when it’s over,” said Hanson, of Newfolden, Minnesota.

The total scores are higher this week due to the addition of a fourth judge. Jessica Rerick was unable to attend judging in the first week while she competed in the Mrs. American Pageant in Las Vegas and did not participate last week while isolating after close contact with COVID.

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Evan Andrist Sept. 6.JPG
Evan Andrist's "Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie," submitted for Round 3 of the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.
Beth Bohlman/Grand Forks Herald

“I think it’s really wonderful to see everyone’s take and how different a crust can be,” Rerick said at the close of Tuesday’s judging. “And I enjoy seeing the love that is clearly put into the toppings and the display. I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to be involved (in judging) in the earlier weeks. This is really interesting to see.”

At stake now is a top prize worth at least $1,000 and the notoriety that comes from winning the month-long tournament, which first was announced in early June and has included a number of news stories and advertisements featuring the contestants. The overall winner will choose between a $500 gift card to Home of Economy or a pie safe, worth $1,400. The winner also will receive $500 from the Herald, in the name of the winner’s sponsor. Second prize is $200.

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Caitlin Olson's "Blue Moon Pie," submitted for Round 3 of the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.
Beth Bohlman/Grand Forks Herald

Bakers throughout the contest have received $25 gift cards to Hugo’s, courtesy of Home of Economy, to purchase ingredients for each pie they have baked. They also received flour and scrapers from the North Dakota Mill, sugar from American Crystal Sugar Co. and aprons from Greenberg Realty.

Other bakers in the contest have been Lynda Kappel, Rose Fuchs, Victoria Bouvette, Jeannine Lazur, Brenda White McCauley, Peggy Raddatz, Amy Lents, Brenda Kovar, Mallory Handford, Tammy Schmitz, Alexandra Lunseth and Brenda Dufault.

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Brityn Proulx's "Pumpkin Spice Latte Pie," submitted for Round 3 of the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.
Beth Bohlman/Grand Forks Herald

Along with Home of Economy and the Grand Forks Herald, sponsors of the event are Hope Church, North Dakota Mill, Valley Senior Living, Hugo’s, Wall’s Medicine Center, The Lighting Gallery, Bremer Bank, Harry’s Steakhouse, Altru Health System, Ground Round, Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce, Blue Moose, American Crystal Sugar Co., Alerus, Northern Roots Boutique, Toasted Frog and Greenberg Realty.

Have another helping
Olson was sponsored throughout the contest by Hope Church of Grand Forks. For her win, she received a $500 check from the Herald on behalf of Hope Church, as well as the choice between two prizes from Home of Economy – either a $500 gift card or a pie safe worth $1,400.

Related Topics: GFH PIES
Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.


As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.



Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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