Darcy Erickson, at right, was named the first prize winner of the apple pie baking contest at the Simple Living Farmers Market on Saturday morning. She is shown with her daughter, Anna, and her prize-winning pie. The contest was sponsored by The Big Woods Apple Orchard and owner Tom Wunderlich.  SUBMITTED PHOTO
Darcy Erickson, at right, was named the first prize winner of the apple pie baking contest at the Simple Living Farmers Market on Saturday morning. She is shown with her daughter, Anna, and her prize-winning pie. The contest was sponsored by The Big Woods Apple Orchard and owner Tom Wunderlich. SUBMITTED PHOTO
The smell of fresh apple pie was coming from the Mabel Simple Living Farmers' Market on Saturday morning, just north of Mabel.

A total of 15 entries were accepted in the contest, which was sponsored by The Big Woods Orchard and owner Tom Wunderlich.

"We had a good level of interest," said Becky Selness, contest organizer. "I had a lot of people contact me and I had to turn a few away."

The pie bakers competed for cash prizes of $100, $50 and $25. The prize money was provided by Wunderlich from The Big Woods Orchard.

The three judges - including Chris Hansen, Janice Welper and Sue Roppe - chose Mabel Postmaster Darcy Erickson to receive first place for her apple pie. Second place winner was Kay Bigalk of Harmony and the third place winner was Brenda Westby of Mabel.

"We had a good turnout and three really good judges," Selness said.

Market extended

Saturday, Oct. 5, was initially intended to be the final date for the 2013 market season, but market chairperson Dode Stoskopf said it was recently decided to extend the market, weather permitting, through October.

"It has been usually good for an unusual year," she said. "People can come weather permitting - and produce permitting and it will give us and people a better chance too. Every time we see fresh produce going out the door - that is a good thing."

The unusual year, which included both a delayed spring and road construction on Highway 44, is part of what prompted the extension of the market.

"We were afraid some of those plants wouldn't grow (this spring), they got started late...but the weather and the road construction are what made it unusual," Stoskopf added.

Vendor Gary Dahlberg was pleased with the results he has received this year. "We like to see the people - there are a lot of interesting people who come," he said.

Stoskopf reported the market has typically featured seven to 10 vendors each Saturday morning. "We always want more people, but we are competing with other markets," she added. "We feel this is such a nice site, fun and the people who are doing it love it. They are passionate about gardening. The highway always does give us some traffic now that it is open. We see Spring Grove, we see Rushford and we see Canton."

Plans for next year's market will be made during the organization's annual meeting on Nov. 4. "After that meeting, we will know if we are going to have a third year," Stoskopf reported. "I really have been pleased with the variety of vendors and the quality that they bring in."

The market will continue on Saturday mornings through October on Highway 44, one-quarter mile west of Mabel.