Pizza 9 franchise owner Chris Angelios and LifeROOTS President and CEO Kathleen Cates chat in Angelios’ restaurant. He is providing pizza samples for LifeROOTS’ Pi(e) Day fundraiser.
Photo Argen Duncan / Observer

Pie is everywhere but in the sky at LifeROOTS’ annual fundraiser.

The sixth annual Pi(e) Day is set for 4-7 p.m. March 10 at Vara Winery, 315 Alameda Park Drive, west of Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque. LifeROOTS President and CEO Kathleen Cates said it’s an after-work, family-friendly event.

The nonprofit LifeROOTS provides a variety of services for children and adults with disabilities, and has had a location in Rio Rancho since 1977.

Cates said organizers decided to move the event north this year to draw in more residents and “tastemakers,” the event name for chefs and bakers, from Rio Rancho and because of the LifeROOTS location here.

Pi(e) Day originally took place on March 14, or Pi Day, noting the geometric number usually rounded to 3.14. This year, it’s early, but still features the edible pie.

General admission, which includes all-you-can-eat samples, is $20. Children younger than 5 get in free.

Cates said attendees would be able to sample all kinds of pie from chicken pot pie to chocolate pie to pizza “pie” cooked by local chefs and bakers. They can also buy whole pies to take home.

Vara Winery chefs are contributing “pi-ella,” better known as paella, a seafood-and-rice dish from Spain.

“There’s a lot of different food varieties,” Cates said.

Children get special boxes to take home samples of pie they don’t have room for during the event. They can also participate in a pie walk and meet Albuquerque Isotopes mascot Orbit, New Mexico Runners mascot Rio and Duke City Gladiators indoor football team representatives.

Adults can buy a glass of wine.

Chris Angelios, owner of the Pizza 9 franchise at Southern Boulevard and 36th Place, is participating as a tastemaker for the first time this year. Other Pizza 9 restaurants have provided food in the past.

“I would like to be involved in the community and any event,” he said, explaining that it’s important to him and the Pizza 9 chain to give back.

Cates asked for thin-crust pizza samples from Angelios’ eatery, although she said she wouldn’t turn down deep-dish pizza.

Besides eating pies, people can also throw whipped-cream pies in the faces of local leaders, from First Judicial District Attorney Marco Serno to US Bank Regional President Paul DiPaola and even Cates herself. Pies to throw are $25 each.

People can also buy tickets for chances to win in two raffles.

“Between the low state waiver rate, losing our catalytic converters (last year) and other circumstances, the only way we can keep our doors open is to do fundraisers,” Cates said.

A thief stole catalytic converters from two large LifeROOTS vans in November, necessitating expensive repairs. The state also has a backlog of disability waivers waiting for funding that would help pay for services.

Cates said the LifeROOTS board of directors wanted an accessible, affordable and fun fundraiser.

“We’re not black-tie people,” she said, explaining they didn’t want to hold events like $200-per-plate dinners.

So, Pi(e) Day hits the spot … or the face.