DUMMERSTON -- It started in the 1960s with locals baking pies in their own kitchens.
But the Dummerston Apple Pie Festival long ago outgrew that practice. For this Sunday's event, volunteers at Dummerston Congregational Church will produce 1,500 pies.
And the gathering will last only until those pies are sold out.
"It's an amazing thing, said the Rev. Susanna Griefen, the church's pastor. "You just think of how many volunteer hours that is to make that many pies."
Apples are just one common theme among three festivals scheduled for this weekend in neighboring towns in the Route 30 corridor:
-- The Townshend Autumn Festival is scheduled from noon to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at West Townshend Country Store on Route 30.
-- Dummerston's pie festival starts at 10 a.m. Sunday in Dummerston Center outside the church.
-- Newfane Heritage Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the historic Newfane Common on Route 30.
The Newfane gathering is now in its 43rd year and is sponsored by Newfane Congregational Church.
There are more than 90 vendors expected, and that number includes many new faces.
"There are about 20 new crafters including a woman with alpacas," said Nissa Petrak, an organizer. "The animals will be there, and she'll be selling the wool."
Organizers say the number of vendors grows annually and this year includes hand-crafted items including quilts, ironwork, pottery, furniture, photography, artwork, jewelry and clothing.
The festival's thousands of attendees can peruse food booths offering apple pies, burgers, hot dogs, chili and chowder. There also is music, a raffle, a flea market and activities for kids.
On Sunday, Newfane Congregational Church will host a service at 8:30 a.m. and a hymn sing at 10:30 a.m. The festival is a big fundraiser for the church, Petrak said.
"This enables us to be able to conduct missions locally and internationally," she said. "Otherwise, it wouldn't be possible."
Likewise, Dummerston's pie festival provides a big financial boost for that town's Congregational Church, supplying about a fifth of the organization's budget, Griefen said.
This year, there will be a quilt raffle to raise money for a mission trip to Kenya, Griefen said. Organizers also are selling aprons, pottery tiles and pins.
Foodstuffs include homemade ice cream, doughnuts, Grafton cheese, coffee and hot cider. And, of course, there are all those apple pies.
As of noontime Tuesday, Griefen said the church's pie count had surpassed 1,000. The church can bake 36 pies at a time.
"It starts two weeks before," she said, adding that "people have a good time. It's sort of like a barn-raising."
Dwight Miller Orchard donates all the apples, while Green Mountain Orchard provides cold storage for the pies, Griefen said.
"It's a real community effort," she said. "And of course, it supports the church, which is a real community resource."
The same might be said for West Townshend Country Store, which has been resurrected by West River Community Project over the past few years. The store, on Route 30 at Windham Hill Road, now hosts a thrift shop, cafe and an outdoor oven.
The oven figures prominently in Saturday's festival, which includes harvest pizza, community bread-baking and a roasted-chicken dinner. Reservations for the dinner must be made in advance at the cafe.
Also planned are a "make your own scarecrow" event, a pumpkin-decorating competition, apple bobbing, music, a costume swap, face-painting and games.
"There will be a lot of things going on there for kids," said Phyllis Trier, a member of the West River Community Project board.
Additionally, the Townshend Farmers Market, which moved to the country store this year, will be in open on Saturday.
The festival is in its second year, and organizers are hoping it -- like the country store -- continues to grow.
"We're just trying to continue to build this as a community center," Trier said.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.