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Annual Thanksgiving donation proves to be as easy as pie
pumpkin pie 5
Dubyak Family Chiropractic owner David Dubyak presents Terry Footes second-place-winning pie to the panel of judges during his 21st annual pumpkin pie contest. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal

Maybe Janice Virgo’s family is making a mistake by not putting her in charge of baking the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year as the Turlock resident won the Dubyak Family Chiropractic’s annual pumpkin pie contest—again.  

“I’m actually making a pumpkin cake, someone else is going to be in charge of the pumpkin pie this year,” said Virgo.

However, Virgo at least got to impress five judges during the 21st annual contest with her delectable pumpkin pie, which was whipped together with condensed milk and topped with a streusel crumble. This recipe was the same one she used to secure first place a few years ago as well.

“I’ve entered maybe four or five years,” said Virgo. “I just thought it was a good thing to support, it’s not so much about winning for me.”

For the past two decades, contest facilitator David Dubyak has collaborated with United Samaritans Foundation to donate pumpkin pies to the foundation’s annual Thanksgiving meal given to those in need through the USF Daily Bread mobile food truck.

“I think it’s important to help people who are not really in the position to do what others take for granted, like making a Thanksgiving meal,” said Dubyak. “These individuals will be eating a turkey dinner from the bread truck on the corner, but at least they’ll know someone made them a homemade pie for dessert.”

Although second-place winner Terry Foote said that she has submitted a pie into the contest for over a decade, this is the first year that she has actually made it into the top two.

“This is really something for me,” said Foote. “I thought I could make a pretty good pumpkin pie. My mom was a pretty good baker and I remember helping her make pies when I was little back in Arizona.

“It’s validation to win a contest,” added Foote.

Foote said it took her several hours and even more practice pies to get it just right. Her pie stood out amongst the others with its praline nut and cranberry topping, as well as its crust with ground nuts.

Eleven individuals competed in the contest, each entering two pies, and an additional 11 pies were dropped off at the chiropractor office solely for donation. Another 80 were given on behalf of the Ceres High School Home Economics Department.

“It’s really a blessing to see how many people are willing to help those who are less fortunate than them,” said USF Director of Operations Maris Sturtevant.

This year’s judges were Cost Less Store Manager Oscar Avila, USF Executive Director Bev Hatcher, Randik Paper Sales Representative Edgar Garcia, Save Mart Supermarkets Store Manager Roy Torres, and Dubyak Family Chiropractic Manager Lisa Dubyak. Together the five judges cast their votes on the texture and taste of the pie crust and filling.