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Pies on Parade: A Sweet Couples Weekend in Maine

by Barbara Rogers

Dec 27, 2019

Stillman Rogers

Age Specific / Adult Children

Winter might not be the season when you’d think of visiting Maine’s coastal town of Rockland, home of Maine’s Windjammer fleet. These magnificent sailing ships are all safely stowed away, but Rockland is far from hibernating. Instead, it goes pie-crazy for a weekend in late January.


Pies on Parade is an annual town-wide celebration, when restaurants, shops, museums and local organizations serve pies in every form imaginable. Ticket holders stroll through the attractive downtown sampling pies as they go. It’s great fun and a delicious way to spend a winter weekend.


Rockland’s downtown keeps couples busy for a weekend of shopping, dining and gallery hopping, including two art museums. The main street of this former fishing port is lined with restored brick mercantile buildings that now hold a variety of independent shops, galleries and eateries.


Pies on Parade at the Lime Rock Inn. Photo: Stillman Rogers

Between pies, visitors browse in shops and visit the Farnsworth Museum’s collections of works by N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth, as well as other artists who lived or worked in Maine, including Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keeffe.


But pies are the centerpiece of the festival — at every stop on the “pie trail” there’s a different take on them. Along with the expected fruit fillings, you can taste meat pies, quiches, pizzas, buttery tartlets, chicken pot pies, gallettes, shepherds’ pie and whoopie pies (not really pies, but a hallowed Maine tradition).


Pies are served in the downtown Maine Lighthouse Museum, and at the Puffin Visitor Center, a project of the Maine Audubon Society, visitors munch on “cream puffins” — creampuffs shaped like puffins complete with orange beaks — while watching a film about these elusive little birds.


On our last visit, Wine Seller offered wine tastings with quiche and Fiore Artisan Olive Oils on Main Street served their own take on whoopie pies, made with Meyer lemon-infused olive oil with a creamy lemon filling. Restaurants and pubs invite guests to sit down and enjoy pies, maybe authentic French-Canadian meat pie or mince pie made with dried wild Maine blueberries.


Pies on Parade began as a fundraiser for the Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry and Fuel Assistance Program and everyone enjoyed it so much, they made it an annual event. The event expanded to include a pie-themed scavenger hunt on Saturday in nearby Camden, and a Friday evening kickoff party at Rock Harbor Tap Room and Brewery includes a silent auction, pie sampling and brewery tours.


You’d think the pie-fans spending the weekend in this Maine coastal town would be hardy New Englanders, but we met people from all over the country, many flying into Portland and driving north along the coast to Rockland. Most stay at one of the three beautiful Historic Inns of Rockland that sponsor the event. Highlights of the pie tastings are at each of the three inns, where visitors can relax in their parlors and breakfast rooms with generous wedges of each inn’s specialty pie.


Berry Manor Inn in Rockland, Maine. Photo: Stillman Rogers


Berry Manor Inn is in a 19th-century mansion decorated in rich colors and Victorian antiques and Limerock Inn is in another lavishly decorated Victorian home (the specialty here, as you might expect, is Key Lime pie). The third, Granite Inn is a Federal-style house built of locally quarried granite blocks and decorated in a stylish mix of antiques and modern furnishings. Each is known for its bountiful breakfasts and all are within walking distance of the Main Street pie venues.


Each of the three has special Pies on Parade packages, including lodging, admission tickets to both Sunday’s pie event and Saturday’s Camden scavenger hunt, a dining voucher, a Pies on Parade poster and two pies to take home. Or buy tickets for the individual Pies of Parade events (but do it early, as tickets are limited).


This year’s Pies on Parade will be on Sunday, Jan. 26, and more than 25 local restaurants, inns, organizations and businesses go all-out over New England’s favorite dessert.


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