Jennie Bell Pie Festival in Kerhonkson

Kelder’s Gnome Chomsky (photo by Julie O’Connor)

Perhaps the most famous resident of Kerhonkson is Chomsky, the giant garden gnome at Kelder’s Farm, who, at 13 feet six inches, is the world’s second-largest garden gnome (a fact certified by the folks at Guinness World Records). Chomsky was the world’s largest garden gnome until he was dethroned in 2010 by a 15-foot gnome in Iowa; and while there is a yet-taller gnome in Poland that stands a towering 17 feet eight inches, apparently that supersized sprite is made of Fiberglas, and the Guinness record only counts for concretized gnomes – concrete being the material of choice for garden gnomes everywhere.

There’s another name in the region that takes pride of place every year, however, and it’s that of Jennie DePuy Bell (1915-2004), whose name has graced the Jennie Bell Pie Festival at Kelder’s Farm every year since 2005. According to Lolly Chase, president of the Kerhonkson/Accord Chamber of Commerce, Jennie Bell was famous within the community for her baking skills, especially when it came to her home-baked pies. She was the mother of a local businessman (Gordon Bell of Bell’s Tree Farm in Accord), and her family were among the first settlers of what is now the Town of Rochester.

Jennie’s name and memory proudly live on now in the annual Jennie Bell Pie Festival, set to take place this year at Kelder’s Farm on Friday and Saturday, September 28 and 29. Friday is an evening affair, from 6 to 10 p.m., and will feature a Battle of the Bands, with the winner taking home a $500 prize. Saturday is an all-day event, from 12 noon to 10 p.m., and opens with a pie-judging contest based on looks, flavor and crust, with the winners’ names added to the Hall of Fame plaque at the farm. Prospective participants can find all the rules and download an entry form on the Festival’s website at www.jenniebell.org.

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While pie is at the heart of the festivities, with home-baked pies for sale all weekend (until they run out), a visit to the two-day extravaganza will also include hayrides, craft and food vendors, a talent show (with cash prizes), the farm’s petting zoo, amusement rides and games and live music with a local band on Saturday. A silent auction will be held from 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, with prizes donated by local businesses and individuals. Items to be bid on include a gardening set, theater tickets, a Christmas tree of any size from Bell’s Christmas Tree Farm, gift certificates from local eateries like the Egg’s Nest and Benny’s Pizzeria, a case of wine from Stone Ridge Wine and Spirits and a day of golf and lunch for two at the Mohonk Mountain House.

More than 2,000 visitors are expected to attend the Festival, which will go on rain or shine. The weekend will wrap up with a display of fireworks on Saturday at 8 p.m. Admission is free. Parking is also free, but with a suggested $2 donation.

Kelder’s Farm is located in the Rondout Valley at 5755 Route 209 in Kerhonkson. For more information, call (855) PIE-FEST (743-3378) or visit www.jenniebell.org.

The Jennie Bell Pie Festival takes place on Friday, September 28 from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, September 29 from 12 noon to 10 p.m. at Kelder’s Farm, located at 5755 Route 209 in Kerhonkson. (The gnome marks the spot!) There will be pies for sale, a judged pie contest, amusement rides and games, craft and food vendors, a silent auction and more. Admission is free. Parking is free with a suggested $2 donation. For more information, call (855) PIE-FEST (743-3378) or visit www.jenniebell.org.

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