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Pie Festival to feature ‘Pie Lady’ documentary

This year’s annual Pie Festival in – where else? – Pie Town will be a special one.

Visitors to the annual eat-a-thon on Saturday will be treated to the screening of a new documentary called “The Pie Lady of Pie Town,” which features local restaurant owner Kathy Knapp and her baked goods.

The film by Santa Fe artist and photographer Jane Rosemont claimed Best Documentary Short at the Burbank International Film Festival last week. It was shown in June at the legendary Chinese Theater in Hollywood, making it Oscar-qualified, and it has gotten awards at several other film festivals.

The movie profiles Knapp, who left a career in marketing (she helped create the “we’ll leave the light on” campaign for Motel 6) to move from Dallas to Pie Town, where her family had acquired Candalaria’s Trading Post in 1995. Knapp and Stan King now run the Pie-O-Neer, one of two restaurants in the small western New Mexico town, population 60.

For telling part of the story through a voice-over narration, Rosemont recruited New Mexico actor Wes Studi, whose credits include “Geronimo,” “The Last of the Mohicans” and “Dances with Wolves.”

The film will be screened during the Pie Festival at 6 p.m. Saturday in the local pavilion.

Pie Town has been known for pies since the 1920s, when World War I veteran Clyde Norman began selling dried apple pies at a little stand at the Continental Divide on U.S. 60, then known to travelers as the Coast to Coast Highway.

A small community sprang up, and residents started campaigning for a post office for “Pie Town.” The U.S. Postal Service felt the name was beneath the dignity of the department, but locals persisted and in 1927 the name Pie Town became official.

Rosemont, who produced and directed the film, said she was inspired after her second trip to the Pie-O-Neer.

She first discovered Pie Town in 2006 when she and her husband, Dick, drove down from Santa Fe to see the Very Large Array.

“In the VLA’s gift shop there was a mileage sign that included Pie Town,” Rosemont said. “And I asked the clerk ‘What’s in Pie Town?’ She looked me square in the eye, and without smiling, replied, ‘…Pie.'”

“How could we be only 35 miles from a place called Pie Town and not go?” she said, adding that they hit it off with Knapp during their visit.

Although vowing to return soon, Rosemont didn’t make it back until six years later.

“On that second trip, I watched Kathy greet customers, pull out a pie, bid customers farewell, put in a pie and carry on several conversations at once, I thought there is a story here,” she said. “Every time we sat down, she was so naturally articulate. Her story was pretty compelling. When I asked her if I could do a film, she said OK.”

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