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"Bye Bye Miss American Pie'
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MONROE - Monticello Music Parents' biggest fundraiser of the year, its annual pie sale, was nipped short at the 2011 Green County Fair.

The loss in pie sales may have been as high as $3,000, according to Laura Curry, the school district's bookkeeper and soon-to-be Monticello Music Parent.

Since 1951, the school's band and chorus students and their parents have sold homemade fruit pies, donated by band supporters, by the slice at the fair, said Mary Statz, a music parent. The sale goes on for four of the five days during the county fair.

This year, food inspectors halted the pie sales on Friday evening of the fair, saying the pies did not comply with new federal laws because they were not made in a commercial kitchen.

The music parents were left with an estimated 100 to 150 pies unsold, at $2.50 a slice or $3 with ice cream.

The pie sales have become an expectation of fair-goers, with some customers coming day after day for a slice of the different pies.

"They became quite angry when they couldn't get their pie," Statz said.

Statz said the organization had submitted far in advance of the fair all the required paperwork to get a state permit to sell the pies and other foods at their food stand. The group even listed homemade pies on the forms.

Somehow, organizers never got the information about not selling homemade foods at an event more than three days long.

"It was quite a surprise when we got inspected," said Statz, who was on duty at the time. "If it's more than three days, it's under different rules and regulations."

The stand was inspected at about 4 p.m. Friday, and the inspector came back a short time later to cut off the pie sales.

"He said, "Quit selling pies or I have to shut you down,'" Statz said. Even so, Statz said she doesn't blame the inspector; he was just following the rules.

Curry was at the stand during the inspection and helped move some foods to a more reliable cooler, when the inspector found a refrigerator was not functioning well enough to maintain a proper temperature during the record-breaking heat spell.

The Monticello Music Parents stand was able to sell its barbecue sandwiches, walking tacos, cold sandwiches, soda, root beer floats, milk and strawberry shortcakes because all of it was purchased foods, simply assembled at the stand.

Last year, the stand brought in a total of $8,000, said Statz.

"It's been a great fundraiser in the past because the pies are completely donated," Statz said.

Proceeds from the fair stand have gone to buy meals for music trips, new equipment and scholarships for band and chorus students, who actively work at the fair stand along with the parents.

Statz said the music parents are not going to quit the pie sales.

"We are just trying to find out the exact rules, and we have to make them at a commercially inspected facility," she said.

Curry said the school's kitchen will probably suffice as the commercial kitchen, but then, the parents will also need a licensed baker on site while the pies are made.

They are now on a search for a licensed baker to volunteer - because anything they have to pay for cuts into funding for the music program.