Each year in Enfield, people gather for a unique Fourth of July celebration. It involves singing and pies.
The pies are sold as a benefit for the Shaker Museum, which is on Route 4a, just down the road from the Shaker Farm Bed and Breakfast.
Co-owner Cathy Gasparik is one of many who sign up to lend their baking skills--something she’s been doing for the past 15 years, when she and her husband moved here from New Jersey and bought the B&B.
On this day, we head into her kitchen, where she’s making the crusts for blueberry crumble pie. To a silver mixing bowl, she adds Gold Medal flour, vinegar, a bit of Morton salt, an egg, and a whole can of Crisco. She rocks a pastry blender back and forth to smoothly mix integrate the Crisco with the flour.
“This just mixes it so you don’t have to get your fingers in. You just blend it until it’s sort of...little pea shapes in there,” Gasparik explains as she works.
She clearly has done this before. Within a few minutes, she’s quartering a lump of pie crust dough and bagging it. She’ll freeze each section and make the pies later so they’re fresh when it’s time to sell them.
Gasparik says she’s actually not too fond of cooking, but she always looks forward to this celebration--especially the sing-along that precedes the sale of the pies.
“It’s such a moving day to hear all of the old songs…you know, all the armed services, all of their songs are sung. And they stand. And there’s just something about it...the songs, the patriotism, the flags being waved…”
Just a short drive away, Ken Munsey and Sharon Carr are at Carr’s home in Enfield, rehearsing for that sing-along.
This year, they’re coordinating the event. A local couple named George and Donna Butler used to run it, with George playing the organ and Donna leading the singing. But Donna Butler recently passed away.
“If it was going to go on, someone had to lead the singing. And it turned out that under the circumstances George wasn’t really interested in continuing to do it,” Munsey explains. “So I asked Sharon, who accompanies my church choir, if she would play and she said she would.”
“And I had lived in Enfield for forever, so I’d been to a number of them, so I was familiar with the program,” Carr adds. “And I said, ‘Sure, I could do that!’”
Munsey says the legacy of the Butlers lives on in the music.
The oldest song in the queue, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” dates back to the Civil War. Carr says people always stand up and get emotional while singing it. Most of the songs, however, are from the World War II era. Munsey himself is a Vietnam veteran.
“It’s often a tradition to do the service songs. Songs like ‘The White Cliffs of Dover,’ which was big with World War II, kind of gave the people of England and Britain particularly a boost during that time.The people in the audience would be most likely to have had a connection to World War II,” says Munsey.
While Munsey mostly sticks to the program the Butlers created, he has made some small changes. He has placed his favorite hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” at the very end. He says he just loves the song and feels that it’s one everyone enjoys.
“Some people call it the black national anthem. It’s about, you know, being free, having freedom and celebrating it.”
Every 4th of July, people gather to sing these songs at the Mary Keane Chapel, on the grounds of the Enfield Shaker Museum.
Once everyone’s vocal chords are tired out, the pie sale begins. This year’s vast section included two of Gasparik’s blueberry crumble pies.