ROCKLAND, Maine -- Ken Barnes learned to make pie crust from scratch as a boy growing up in Pittsburgh. Now he could make pies in his sleep. Like most pie makers, he is opinionated. He will tell you to use loads of sugar and lemon juice. He is of the Crisco school when it comes to crust.
For Barnes, 65, who has had careers as a set designer, blacksmith, college professor, innkeeper, and captain of the schooner Stephen Taber for 25 years, making pies has stood him well in life.
''I have always cooked. I have always felt that a well-rounded person should know these things," he said last month.
Barnes will be on hand next Sunday at the Captain Lindsey House in Rockland to demonstrate the decorative arts of pie-making: adding a braid, stars, flowers, or other flourishes. His wife, Ellen, will make most of the pies, including pumpkin, peanut butter, and cranberry apple walnut. She'll also produce a lamb-beef pasty. Susan Barnes, their daughter and a chef, too, will whip up her kiwi-berry tart.
The flurry of pie-making is part of the second annual ''Pies on Parade" tour in which five Rockland inns host tastings and demonstrations. The establishments are offering package deals for the weekend. One-night accommodations for two run $115-$190. The tour is limited to 350 people.
Pies on Parade, which falls the day before National Pie Day, was conceived by Historic Inns of Rockland as a lure to visitors in winter. New Englanders, the innkeepers knew, not only are wild about pie, but also rugged enough to venture Down East in January. Scores of stalwart souls braved a blizzard with whiteout conditions last year for the first Pies on Parade.
Apple, cherry, raisin, blintz, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry rhubarb, grits-crisp, and coffee-rum pecan cheese are among pies planned. The lineup also includes various seafood pies like oyster and lobster, and dill havarti egg pie.
''Rhubarb always grew behind the garage," Judy Waterman of Waterman House recalled. ''One of my earliest memories is of my mother's rhubarb pie cooling in the kitchen."
Contact Letitia Baldwin, Style editor at The Bangor Daily News, at email@example.com.