Andrea Spring knows a thing or two about making pies.
For proof, there are the two poster-sized checks hanging at Sign of the Mermaid, the restaurant she and her husband, Ed, have had for nearly 20 years.
Spring’s Key lime pie won $5,000 for best of show at the 2007 Crisco American Pie Council National Pie Championship in Orlando.
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Then she did it again in 2010 with her chocolate raisin pie, a choc-o-holic’s delight with walnuts and milk chocolate chips.
Spring is looking for a trifecta in 2012.
“It’s amazing how people will travel all the way from Seattle to bake pies in Orlando,” the 54-year-old said. “It’s incredible how devoted people are to it.
“I think those people are here, too.”
Which Spring wants to find out.
She has organized the first Anna Maria Island Pie Contest in conjunction with the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce 11th annual Bayfest, Oct. 14-15, and it’s open to the public.
“I’ve wanted to do this for some time, to have some kind of pie contest around here because we just don’t have any,” Spring said. “It’s going to be for professionals -- people who work in restaurants -- amateurs and culinary students.
“I definitely want to get students involved, because I know there are some great culinary programs here.”
The Sarasota native was 6 when she began learning to bake with her grandmother in Bradenton.
“What’s funny is we argued over chocolate cake, and she said, ‘I’m going to show you how to bake a chocolate cake the right way.’ And she did,” Spring said.
That’s how the lifelong love affair with baking began.
She knows others have it, too, even if it is dormant.
“It was a dying art, but I think it is coming back -- like canning, making cookies, cupcakes,” Spring said. “I understand a lot of people buy pies because they don’t want to make it themselves, because it is a lot of work. But people who bake still want to be recognized.”
Maryann Brockman, the AMI Chamber’s president and chief executive officer, agrees.
“It’s just for fun, but it’s also for recognition, getting recognized as having the best pie,” she said. “People crave it -- and having everybody enjoy your pie.”
HOW TO ENTER
What: First Anna Maria Island Pie Contest
Where: Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce 11th annual Bayfest, Pine Avenue from Gulf Drive to Bay Boulevard
When: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Oct. 14; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Oct. 15
Information: Contest applications are available at Sign of the Mermaid (778-9399), Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce (778-1541) or The Island Sun Newspaper (778-3986)