It was a traditional country-style harvest fair, but the 21 pumpkin pies up for judging were anything but ordinary, the judges said.

A pumpkin pie competition is an annual event at the Marton Harvest Fair, which took place in a hot and crowded Marton Park on March 31. There were circus acts, 180 stalls, a toe-tapping band and an afternoon wedding.

The pumpkin pies were judged by UCOL chef Roslyn Towey and visitor Simon Gault. Towey congratulated competitors on their baking.

"To taste the innovation that's going on here is incredible. There's a curry pumpkin pie. Who would've thought?" Gault said.

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One pie was topped with cream and candied nuts, for crunch and sweetness. The third-prize winner was an ordinary looking pie, flavoured with ginger.

"It's just so simple, but so delicious."

There was only half a point between the top two pies. Melissa Welch's was gluten-free, and the crust was made from pumpkin seed flour.

"A lot of gluten-free stuff tastes bloody awful. That tastes bloody great," Gault said.

Louise Knight holds her prizewinning pumpkin pie variation, flanked by chefs Roslyn Towey and Simon Gault. Photo / Laurel Stowell
Louise Knight holds her prizewinning pumpkin pie variation, flanked by chefs Roslyn Towey and Simon Gault. Photo / Laurel Stowell

The winner was Louise Knight's "wow factor" concoction, pies in small rounds coated with a white chocolate mirror glaze over two layers of pumpkin filling and a crust.

Later, on stage, Gault told an audience sitting on hay bales how he changed himself from "a fat bastard" - 41 per cent fat - to "a skinny bastard". He made a documentary titled Why Are We Fat?

"I get emails every day from people saying 'You have saved my life'," he said.

Elsewhere at the fair were decorated pumpkins and 75 entries in the home brewed beer and cider competition. The winners of Project Marton's Elope to the Country competition were to be married in a model chapel, with a reception in a marquee after it.

Their caterers pushed their way through the crowd toward the marquee during the morning.

A band had people dancing, and more than 180 stalls sold everything from fudge to jewellery. Amusements for children included a bouncy castle, a circus area with juggling and games and rides in model hot rods.

Vintage steam machinery was a big attraction for some, and there were horse and cart rides, too.

Danielle Carter practises juggling in the circus corner at Marton Harvest Fair. Photo / Laurel Stowell
Danielle Carter practises juggling in the circus corner at Marton Harvest Fair. Photo / Laurel Stowell

Wellington business Highly Flammable provided seven performers, who taught juggling, walked on stilts and posed as hobbits. There were multiple food options, including Greek, Māori and Mexican.

Project Marton co-ordinator Cath Ash said about 10,000 people would pass through the fair during the day - and it was a great day in Marton.

"This is how we roll here."