ROCKLAND, Maine — Shepherd’s pie, whoopie pie, seafood chowder pie, blueberry pie and a good many others. By the time this weekend’s Pies on Parade Tour ends, pies will be a four-letter word in Rockland.

How much pie can one person stomach in three hours? This year 38 is the number to beat.

That is how many varieties innkeepers and business owners are rolling, stuffing and baking this week in anticipation of the 12th annual Pies on Parade Tour taking over downtown Rockland Sunday.

Why do people get pie-eyed for this self-guided tasting?

“It’s pies. Pies always make people happy,” said Cheryl Michaelsen, owner of the Berry Manor Inn, where pie is the signature. Michaelsen, an organizer of this moveable feast, became something of a pie sensation when her mother and mother-in-law turned out the tastiest pies at the inn. The “Pie Moms” rose to stardom, appearing on the Food Network and are now media darlings.

What started out as a way to drum up tourism in the winter is now putting food on plates across the midcoast. The Limerock Inn, Lighthouse Museum, Cafe Miranda, In Good Company, even pet boutique The Loyal Biscuit Co. have joined the parade to keep this fundraiser rolling. All proceeds from each $30 ticket help fight food insecurity in Maine.

“One hundred percent of everything goes to Area Interfaith Outreach. The Historic Inns of Rockland donate marketing, products, time, labor and staff,” said Michaelsen, who is proud that parade funds go toward food and fuel assistance. So far the event has generated $109,000 for the food pantry that serves Knox County’s neediest.

“Food insecurity is a big problem in Maine. Rockland is an interesting community because it’s the county seat and we have a huge amount of people that need assistance to survive,” said Michaelsen.

The sweetness of pies tint the darkness of despair.

With reusable forks raised high, 600 people, locals and food tourists alike, are expected to hit the streets to taste sour cherry and goat cheese handpies, drunken pumpkin bourbon tarts, even a kimchee and pork belly pizza. Each venue will offer both sweet and savory offerings.

“You can’t hit the dessert pies too fast,” warns Michaelsen, who suggests comfortable shoes, expandable pants and power walking between stops. New venues this year include Friends of Maine’s Seabird Islands, where butterscotch pie will be served in ode to Scotch Island.

Main Street Markets teams up with Bixby & Co, for mini waffle bites and drinking chocolate. Nice twofer.

Back at pie central, The Berry Manor Inn will offer raspberry, blueberry and pecan pies along with artichoke and spinach and broccoli cheddar pies. Does Michaelsen ever tire of rolling out the dough, which she does 25 times a week in the busy season?

“Making crust and filling is always an adventure.”

Adding to the adventure this year is a Downton Abbey high tea and pie fundraiser ($5 donation) from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Island Institute. For those that like something stronger, a wine and pie pairing at the Wine Seller in Rockland is open to the public from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Which vintage best complements shiitake mushroom and leek tarts? Uncork the mystery here.

A silent auction at Trackside Station kicks off the good vibes off Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. Pie-themed cocktails will be served throughout the evening and the restaurant will donate 5 percent of special cocktail sales to the food pantry.

The parade runs from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31. Tickets are $30. For more information, visit www.HistoricInnsofRockland.com or call 207-596-6611.


Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.