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Folkways Pie Suppers

Pies and People

Pie suppers are among the most popular fund-raising and social events in the Ozarks. Volunteer Fire Departments hold them to raise money for equipment and neighbors hold them to help people who have lost their homes in fires or who may be facing big hospital bills for one reason or another. The reason for the pie supper might not be so fun but the event always is because the community gathers around to support individual families or, in the case of the volunteer fire department, a common goal.

Pie suppers have been around as long as square dances and other such excuses for neighbors to get together and visit. In the old days, women would bake pies for the pie supper, and men would bid on the pies, trying to buy the one that a certain woman baked (this was especially fun for young men and women who might be courting each other or thinking about it). Then the guy who bought the pie had the privilege of sitting and eating it with the woman who baked it.

Theta PorterThese days, everyone generally just sits down and eats the pies together after the bidding. Unless they just need to get on home, most people will stay for the fellowship and the sweets.

It's common, too, at pie suppers to have other items for people to bid on as prizes for other people, says Theta Porter, president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Squires Volunteer Fire Department. "We will sell a bar of soap for the person with the dirtiest feet, or a jar of pickles for the most lovesick couple, or a pair of socks for the coldest feet."

People have to know each other a bit, or be willing to get to know each other, to make pie suppers work. Their success is a function of the community's togetherness.

Written by Patty Cantrell.