South Side Pie Challenge

Past entrants into the South Side Pie Challenge undergo sampling. 

After a pair of virtual events last year, the South Side Pie Challenge will return to an in-person edition on Oct. 9 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., though one held outdoors and to-go in Nichols Park rather than inside the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. 

Other than that, the format is largely the same as more ordinary years: a juried contest across four categories — fruit, nut, cream and sweet potato/pumpkin — with funds going to the Hyde Park/Kenwood Hunger Programs. The outdoor tent will be set up just north of the Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave. 

“It’s pie to go. If people want to bring a fork to Nichols Park and a blanket, they can wander away somewhere. We’re just not hosting a gathering,” said Julie Vassilatos, an organizer of the event. “I feel a little bit like the Soup Nazi when I say, ‘You know, get your pie and get out!’ ”

Slices are $4, while bakers can enter the competition for $30 by Oct. 6 through the Pie Challenge’s website. 

During last year’s pandemic, the Pie Challenge hosted two events. The first, in May, featured people submitting videos of themselves making pies and raised $3,200 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Then, the group held a “Pie it Forward” event in October, in which people donated a registration fee to their local food pantry, then made pies and delivered them to friends and family. 

“Every time somebody would give to a different food pantry, I would post about that on the Facebook page and, you know, I hope people learned a lot about the many, many, many food pantries that are just doing incredible work on a shoestring at a time when there’s still great need, just a terrible amount of insecurity all over the country,” said Vassilatos. “That was a real eye-opening one for me.” 

For more information or to register for the contest before Oct. 6, visit

After a pair of virtual events last year, the South Side Pie Challenge will return to an in-person edition on Oct. 9, though one held outdoors and to-go in Nichols Park rather than inside the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.


Christian Belanger graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017. He has previously written for South Side Weekly, Chicago magazine and the Chicago Reader.

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