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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Saturday’s South Side Pie Challenge Raises Funds To Help Hyde Park Hunger Programs Over The ‘Winter Hump’

The South Side Pie Challenge will be held at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave, from 2 to 5 p.m.

South Side Pie Challenge
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HYDE PARK — Halloween is over, so the holiday season has officially begun. What better way to get into the holiday spirit than gorging yourself on pie?

South Siders have the chance to do just that at Saturday’s South Side Pie Challenge, held at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave. It runs from 2 to 5 p.m.

The event is a fundraiser for the Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council’s hunger programs. They include a food pantry, soup kitchen and monthly community breakfasts.

Prizes are $100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third. Besides the prize money, all funds raised go to support the hunger programs.

Entry into the contest is closed, but for $4 a slice, attendees can eat as much as they’d like from the four categories: Cream, fruit, nut and sweet potato and pumpkin.

Julie Vassilatos, event organizer and a former food blogger, was inspired by the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is cool. Why do we not have this on the South Side?” she said. “So [in 2012] we did that. … We had 54 entrants and raised $2,000.”

Since then, the event has only grown, Vassilatos said. She estimates 600 attendees came out last year, and more than $25,000 has been raised in the contest’s history.

The all-volunteer event is not the hunger programs’ main funding source, but the money raised helps “get [the organization] over the winter hump,” Vassilatos said.

Those who can’t make it to the event can donate directly to the hunger programs through Paypal.

Vassilatos has had friends and family enter the contest for the fun of it and walk away as winners, so she encourages people to come out and witness the joy and pride bakers bring to the event every year.

“Pie is funny, because people have a lot of emotional associations with pie — memories, family traditions, and it’s kind of challenging [to bake],” she said. “When people bring pies that they made for this contest, they’re doing their absolute best. People are just so proud of the thing that they made.”