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Why this 1st place pie sold for $15,000 at the Harrow Fair

You wouldn’t expect pies to sell for tens of thousands of dollars, but that’s exactly what happened at this year’s Harrow Fair in Essex, Ont., over the weekend.

The annual pie auction was a favourite event of Harrow resident Lonie Kady. The late Hometown Family Pharmacy co-owner, who died in March, especially enjoyed the friendly banter that came with bidding on delicious desserts. 

“Lonie was a huge, huge supporter of the community, [and] his way of giving back was always to participate in the pie auction every year.” said Candy Fielder, a co-owner of the pharmacy alongside Kady.

“It gets a little fun when you’re betting against your arch-rival…. You keep the bidding going and going and going.” 

Community support

A woman holding a mostly eaten pie
Candy Fielder, a pharmacy technician and part owner of Hometown Family Pharmacy, is shown with a prize-winning pie. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The people who knew Kady best decided to get as many community members as possible involved with the Harrow Fair pie auction. 

 “We didn’t want the McGivney [Children’s] Centre or other local businesses to feel at a loss because he wasn’t around — we wanted to continue his support for the community.”

“[He] was a phenomenal guy [with] the biggest heart that you’d ever meet in your life.”

The John McGivney Centre in Windsor, Ont., provides services to children with disabilities.

The centre says that the pie auction was set up in the names of Brad and Joanne Stannard 26 years ago and is still run by their family. The Stannards’ son Todd, who died at age seven in 1975, had spina bifida and was a client of the McGivney centre.

This year, the fundraiser far exceeded the previous record of $50,000.

“We are beyond grateful to the Stannard family, all of the bakers, the auctioneers and everyone who had a hand in making this a huge success,” CEO Jennifer Jovanovski said in a statement to CBC News.

“These funds will help us run programs that are not normally funded by ministry dollars, including our life skills programs, transition to employment and our summer camps.”

Small town spirit

In honour of Kady, the pharmacy decided to get together an ad in the Harrow News local paper and encourage others to bid against the pharmacy.

“We had a huge, tremendous turnout [with] lots of bidding [and] lots of sparring between individuals,” Fielder said. “We got a huge amount of pies.”

An ad was placed in the Harrow News encouraging the community to bid on a pic in Kady's honour.
An ad was placed in the Harrow News encouraging the community to bid on a pic in Kady’s honour. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Despite the amount of competition, Fielder and her team would take home the first-place winning pie — a key lime made by Mary Beth Little — for the price of $15,000. 

And how does a $15,000 pie taste?

One person who tried it described it as “better than sex,” according to Fielder.

A pie in a plastic container with a ribbon that says "first" on it.
This first-place key lime pie fetched $15,000 at auction at the Harrow Fair. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

“I’m going to have to agree with her there,” she said with a laugh.

The pharmacy also bought other pies, spending $37,500 in total.

Combined with the funds raised by other pie-buyers, a record-breaking $82,000 was raised for the centre.

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