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Palace City Prize Pies contest announced

It's Martha Stewart meets March Madness -- and it's coming to Mitchell.

The Daily Republic's inaugural Palace City Prize Pies contest will start Thursday, with 16 area contestants going dough-to-dough to advance to the final bake-off. The winner of the tournament will receive more than $500 in cash and prizes.

Korrie Wenzel, publisher of The Daily Republic, said the contest was inspired by a desire to create a fun, yet highly readable, event for the community.

"We've wanted to do some sort of baking contest for a few years now, but never could think of the right idea," Wenzel said. "Eventually, it dawned on us that it would be even more fun if we conducted a pie contest in a bracketed format, just like the big basketball tournaments in the spring."

Sixteen businesses are sponsoring the contest. The four major sponsors are Central Electric Cooperative, Tickled Pink, Mitchell Technical Institute and The Daily Republic.

Each contestant will be paired with a sponsoring business. The business whose baker wins will receive free advertising in The Daily Republic.

The rules are simple: Each contestant will bake a pie, which will be judged by a panel. Judges will use a scorecard to determine the winner in each head-to-head matchup. Winners will advance in the bracket. Contestants may not use the same pie twice as they advance through the first three rounds, although they will be allowed to use an earlier recipe for the championship round.

Winners will be announced in news stories in The Daily Republic.

Wenzel is encouraging the bakers to share their recipes with the newspaper, to possibly be printed later in the year. He understands that some recipes may be family secrets, and said that's OK, too.

Judges are Sean Moen, food services director for the Mitchell School District and owner of OverTime Steakhouse and Sports Bar; Laura Senska, an advertising and marketing consultant at The Daily Republic; Seth Tupper, editor of The Daily Republic; Megan Sabers, owner of Tickled Pink; and at least one other employee of The Daily Republic.

Senska is a graduate of South Central Technical College in Minnesota, with a degree in hotel-restaurant management and culinary arts.

The Daily Republic's Assistant Advertising Director Lorie Hansen is the tournament coordinator, while another employee at The Daily Republic who is a notary public will be in charge of collecting the pies and keeping them anonymous for the judging process.

After the first round, subsequent rounds will be held Sept. 12, 19 and 26. The head-to-head matchups for the "sweet 16" will be announced in bracket form in the Sept. 4 edition of The Daily Republic.

Wenzel said he hopes the contest will become an annual event.

"What we hope is that families and readers really root for the contestants as they move forward in the brackets," Wenzel said.

The first-place winner will receive $400 cash, a $50 gift card from OverTime Steakhouse and Sports Bar, a $50 gift card from Little Red Hen and a six-month subscription to The Daily Republic.

Second place will receive $75 cash and a $50 gift card from Bonnie's DeKor, and third and fourth places each will receive $50. All contestants will receive $25 for entering.