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Houston Chronicle 

Pie lovers got the chance to both bake and sample pies ranging from fruit and chocolate pies to chicken pot pies at The Heights Great American Pie Contest.
The Houston Heights Association hosted the pie contest July 9 at the Houston Heights City Hall & Fire Station. In its third year, the event featured about 18 pies and a full house seeking a fun evening and, of course, pie.
Most of the pies were sweet, but a handful were savory like the South African Bobotie pie Kris O’Brien made. The Bobotie, she said, is typically a meatloaf made of beef and lamb, although she just used beef for the contest. O’Brien and her daughter Maddie, 11, drove in from the Copperfield area to compete in the contest. Maddie made a blueberry lavender pie.
O’Brien said Maddie really wanted to be one of the top pies but that they also like the contest for the way it tends to make Houston feel like a small town, even if just for one night.
“She wants to place, and I would like to as well just for fun,” O’Brien said. “We enjoy the community behind all of this. It really is a nice little community event. Here, we have the big city of Houston, but we have kind of a small-town event within the big city. It’s really wonderful.”
O’Brien’s Bobotie placed second in the savory category.
Mariann Kieffer attended the event with her husband Curt and their young daughter Josephine. Kieffer said she decided the day of the contest that she wanted to enter a pie and rushed to the grocery store at around 3 p.m. for some peaches. Kieffer has been baking so long that she could not remember when she started and said her peach pie came out juicier than she wanted, probably because she used peaches that weren’t quite ripe.
“The flavor turned out as I expected, but I should have put a thickener in it. So it was really soupy, and I think that probably hurt my chances [of winning],” she said.
Three Brothers Bakery Owner Bobby Jucker is known for award-winning desserts like pecan and key lime pies. He served as one of the pie contest’s judges. Before the judging, Jucker said he was looking forward to the contest.
“I’m excited. This looks like a lot of fun, a really great crowd. It just looks like a very fun event, a lot of people and a lot of energy here,” he said.
HHA is an organization that works to see “the Houston Heights to be recognized as a diverse, small town community in the heart of Houston, where neighbors and businesses thrive, children learn and play, and history lives,” according to its vision statement on its website.
Sharon Dearman, HHA vice president of communications and board member, said events like the pie contest are important to Heights residents because they help them build relationships and create a sense of community.
“The Heights Association is all about building community, and events like the pie contest do just that. It creates that small town feel right here in one of the largest cities in the nation. That’s one of the things we love best about living here,” Dearman said. “The Houston Heights Association promotes and fosters friendship, goodwill and community spirit here in the broader Heights community.”
She said the money HHA raises goes right back into the Heights area.
“Money raised from our events, membership dues, sponsorships and donations goes directly into the community,” Dearman said. “We maintain the Heights Boulevard esplanade, Marmion and Donovan Parks and the Houston Heights City Hall & Fire Station, where we hold our monthly meetings with themes like the pie contest. We also provide funding to our schools.”
For more information about the organization, visit
Dearman said the Houston Heights Association definitely plans to hold The Heights Great American Pie Contest again next year.
“Absolutely! It is growing in popularity, getting bigger every year. It’s become a new tradition,” she said.

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