There’s something special about the pie served at the St. Christopher’s Community Church’s Blueberry Bash.
Asked about the origins of the recipe for the dessert that has been funding church programs and local nonprofit organizations for nearly four decades, The Rev. James Thibodeaux thought for a moment.
“It was by divine revelation,” he said. “It came down off the mountain with Moses and the Ten Commandments, and we discovered it much, much later.”
The recipe isn’t exactly a secret, he added, but you won’t learn it by attending Sunday’s bash at the Steamboat Island church, which is a community of both the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can buy the blueberry pie whole or by the slice at the event — though you might want to arrive early, because it’s been known to sell out.
Also on the menu are blueberry milkshakes, a few pies of other varieties, and such savory treats as eggrolls and geoduck chowder by Xinh Dwelley, a church member who until last year was chef at Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House in Shelton.
The festival also offers bluegrass by the Oly Mountain Boys, face painting, a bounce house, a three-legged race, bingo and more. Proceeds benefit both the church and a different nonprofit each year; this year’s beneficiary is the Thurston County Food Bank.
But the pie is the main thing at the 39th annual festival. As of Monday, church volunteers had baked 185 pies, many of them at Saturday gatherings in the church’s kitchen, well equipped with three ovens.
“We put on some music and we talk and we laugh and we share stories as we bake,” Thibodeaux said. “The whole church smells like blueberry pie, which is wonderfully distracting.
“Some churches’ worship smells like incense; in August, our worship smells like blueberry pie.”
While the church membership and staff have the pie process down pat, other aspects of the event are evolving.
This is the first year the church has sought in-kind sponsorships, said organizer Shelley Ackroyd. Olympic Mountain donated ice cream for the milkshakes, Spooner Farms gave 20 flats of berries for pies, and Taylor Shellfish contributed seafood for Dwelley’s creations.
Previously, the church was spending $700 or so on berries and about that much on ice cream, she said.
With the donation, Ackroyd estimated that this year’s festival could make $5,000-$8,000 or more for the church and the food bank — plus the nonperishable food donations attendees are asked to bring to this year’s bash.
Ackroyd, who took over coordinating the event this year, also is encouraging other organizations in the community to get involved.
“The food bank is dear to our hearts,” Thibodeaux said. “We’re a satellite location of the Thurston County Food Bank, and we have a garden where community members gather and grow food for the food bank.”
The priest joked that he personally is happy to accept donations of blueberry pie, which he’s been helping to bake since he came to the church in 2014. (Church members welcomed him with — you guessed it — blueberry pie.)
As for the divine recipe, he declined to share it, but said, “If you want to know the recipe, you can come help us bake pies.”
Blueberry pies, blueberry milkshakes, geoduck chowder and music by the Oly Mountain Boys are among the highlights of this traditional community festival, which also features old-fashioned games, kids’ activities and bingo.
When: Noon-4 p.m. Sunday
Where: St. Christopher’s Community Church, 7902 Steamboat Island Road NW, Olympia
Tickets: Free; nonperishable donations to the Thurston County Food Bank are requested.
More info: 360-866- 2111, stchristopherolympia.org. To get involved with this or a future bash, call organizer Shelley Ackroyd at 360-705-1044.