October 3, 2011 - 12:00 AM

KINCAID — David Briggs carefully picked off flakes of a pie crust to get a better taste, just as he had done moments earlier with the pie’s fruit.
“It’s good,” said Briggs, one of three judges in the Kincaid Fair pie judging contest Saturday.
But, “maybe not thick enough,” observed another of the judges, Nancy Schuster.
Thus it went as Briggs, Schuster and Bonnie Rook examined how each of 18 pies were made and how they tasted, 10 from first-time contestants.
Briggs noted this year’s field was larger. Last year only nine pies were entered. Entries in 2009 numbered 33.
Contestants aren’t limited to homegrown ingredients — like farming, drought and heat cut into the harvest — but they are the favorite of bakers in the Kincaid neighborhood.
“I had only enough Jonathan apples to make a batch of apple sauce,” Marvelle Harris, one of the parade grand marshals and a pie-judging helper, said.
The trio of judges carried on a running conversation.
“This is real gooseberry,” Rook said of one of three made from the tart fruit. “It gives you pucker power, but it’s good.”
Veronica Cumplido won the newcomers’ division with a blueberry pie and Linda Russell and daughter Becky were second and third. Jane Ward came out atop bakers who had entered previously. Delores DeMerritt was second, Harris third.

FAIR ACTIVITIES on Saturday were greeted with made-to-order mild temperatures and generous sunshine, which prompted a crowd that by parade time was several people deep on either side of four blocks of Commercial Street.
“They really come out, it’s this way every year,” said Leonard Leadstrom, the town’s mayor and an advocate for keeping open the Kincaid post office, one of many in small towns across the nation being considered for closure.
Leadstrom was sitting behind a card table. A sign on the front read: “Help save our post office, sign here.”
“I don’t suppose it’ll do any good,” he said. “But, we gotta try.”
Leadstrom was among those who led efforts that have turned the old Kincaid High School into a community center. Money raised in a 5K run and 1.5K walk early Saturday will go to purchase exercise equipment for the center.
In the runup to the afternoon’s activities, kids took advantage of carnival rides, including Lizzie, 3, and Gracyn, 1, daughters of Jeremy and Holly Ellington, who found the merry-go-round to their liking. Mom rode along to make sure Gracyn stayed in the saddle.
Before the parade started Leon Thompson, Iola auctioneer, sold the 18 pies judges earlier, with Cumplido’s blueberry delight first on the block fetching $40. None brought less than $20.
Shayla Stephens then crowned Chelsey Brooks 2011 fair queen, and minutes later the parade started. Its theme was “Kansas 150 years” in honor the state’s sesquicentennial. “Wizard of Oz” characters and Kansas being the sunflower state were much in evidence.
Crest Middle School students dressed like sunflowers with only their faces showing had the first place float. One entered by descendants of George Patton, an early 1940s graduate of Kincaid High, was the grand prize winner. The float carried Oz characters and an animated Arne Evenson, Pretty Prairie, brought cheers along the parade route as the lion. He drove the towing tractor and stood up frequently to twirl his tail and do a little jig.
“This is our sixth year of having the family float, but only at Kincaid,” said Mary Patton, Bush City.
“Great-granddad Patton loved Kincaid and we do it for him each year,” she continued. “It takes about two weeks to put the float together” and involves family members from several towns, including some, such as Pretty Prairie, a few hours drive from Bush City.
Kids games and races, a draft horse pull and “Glenda and Mike’s Mysteries and Wonders Show” followed the 45-minute-long parade and carried on into the evening.

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