The Malibu Pie Festival returns in-person after two-year hiatus
By Emmanuel Luissi
Special to The Malibu times
Malibu United Methodist Church welcomed residents and community leaders to the 31st annual Malibu Pie Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15.
The free admission event featured activities, entertainment, and food selections for the whole family, and proceeds from sales at the event benefited church youth and family programs as well as community service projects.
Despite a gloomy day, the festival was well-attended.
Pastor Erin Stenberg said she was excited to have the community come together for some pie.
“To be back here again in person, we were ready and I think the community was as well because they didn’t let a little mist keep them away,” Stenberg said.
Miss Teen United States Rachel DeAngelis grew up attending the Pie Festival and said she has been attending as long as she could remember. She has participated in the event as a pie contest baker and a pie judge and said the event is important for the community.
“I think everyone is happy to be back. I’m certainly happy to be back, and it’s a really wonderful thing to see everyone in the community coming back for this event,” DeAngelis said.
Festival attendees were offered a selection of barbecue foods, snacks, and beverages, and, of course, a wide selection of pies.
Guests were treated to a day of live musical performances by rock band U.S. 99, guitarist and vocalist Gabe Deibel, Ukamusic featuring Naomi Louise Warne, Malibu Middle and High School Soloists, and A Call 2Peace Ensemble.
Among the musical performances was a tribute to the Melvin Eddy Blues Band.
Eddy was a member of Malibu United Methodist Church for over 20 years, was part of the church choir, and had performed in every pie festival. Pastor Stenberg announced that the stage in the church courtyard would be renamed the Melvin Eddy Stage, and would soon feature a plaque in his honor.
“He was with the pie festival from the very beginning, and since he means so much to us as a church family, we felt it was appropriate to dedicate the stage to him,” Stenberg said.
The festival featured booths where guests could buy pie festival merchandise, get a chiropractic massage, enter the pie eating contest and get coffee to enjoy with their slices of pie.
Guests could also bid on art during the festival’s silent art auction.
Children at the festival enjoyed the church’s nursery school playground and were offered activities such as a face painting booth, spin art, Jenga XXL and cornhole games.
The main events of the pie festival were the pie baking and pie eating contests.
The pie baking competition was split up into five adult categories and two child categories.
The adult categories included apple, fruit, chocolate, vegan, and seasonal.
The child categories were split up by age group, ages 9-14 and ages 8 and younger.
The judges were made up of local community leaders representing Malibu City Council, Pepperdine University, Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, and Malibu United Methodist Church, among others.
Former Malibu UMC Pastor Larry Peacock was one of the festival’s judges, his first time acting as a pie judge.
Peacock co-created the Malibu Pie Festival over 30 years ago and said it was a special experience to be part of an event that has carried on fundraising for the church for so many years.
“I’m excited, happy, overjoyed to see all the participation that’s happened for over 30 years.” Peacock said.
Stenberg said Peacock loved pie and praised his idea for giving the church’s great bakers the opportunity to share their desserts with the community.
“Our church family has some incredible bakers, just phenomenal bakers and everyone knew that so he wanted to create an event for them that was geared for them,” Stenberg said.
Peacock said it was an interesting experience to be a judge for the first time after being part of the event for so many years. He said he wasn’t allowed to participate as a judge in the past due to his knowledge of who baked the pies. He judged the apple and vegan categories.
“It was a sweet experience, to say the least,” Peacock said.
Valerie Seabaugh and Lynda Pingatore stood out among the winners of the pie baking contest. Each took home multiple ribbons for placing in the top 3 in multiple pie categories.
Seabaugh won first place in the vegan category, second in vegan and chocolate, and third in seasonal.
Pingatore won first place in seasonal and apple, and third in chocolate.
Seabaugh, who is a member of Malibu United Methodist Church, said the contest for her is not about winning, but the fun of being in the kitchen and knowing she’s helping raise money for the church. She encouraged everyone in the community to come enjoy pie and help raise money for the church.
“Come and eat pie, how easy is that? You help raise money by eating pie, it’s the best way ever to raise money,” Seabaugh said. “It’s such a good cause. This church is part of the bedrock of this community.”
The festival concluded with the pie eating contest. The constants lined up in front of the stage where each contestant received a chocolate cream pie to eat. Contestants were not allowed to use their hands or utensils to eat their dessert, so they had to eat face first.
The winner was 8-year-old Bay Bagshaw. She said the competition was fierce, but she trusted in her pie eating strategy.
“I was desperate, I was so scared I was going to lose but then I just dunked my face in the pie!” Bagshaw said, “I thought it was fun winning and eating so much pie quickly.”
Stenberg said she was happy the event continues to give the community a fun way to come together and support the church.
“Our vision as a church is to create compassion and community, so we want to create this space for people to have fun, interact with one another, enjoy live music and be a community together. To have pie together is just icing on the cake,” Stenberg said.