LA CRESCENT, MN -

A tradition that goes hand in hand with Applefest, was in full force Thursday morning.

Volunteers at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in La Crescent were busy baking 500 apple pies. They're doing it in just one morning.

But after 40 years of doing it to raise money for local organizations, these volunteers have quite a system down.

Shirley Rosendahl was there on day one, 40 years ago, when Prince of Peace Lutheran started its apple-pie-making tradition.

"We were making 275, then 300, 350 and 400 and then 500. It just kept growing," said Rosendahl.

And it has grown, turning the production into a well-oiled machine.

"I'd hate to be peeling by hand," said volunteer Wayne Husman, who was helping peel apples with a mechanical peeler.

Others help prepare the dough.

"We get the mix and then Cindy and I add the water and make little snowballs out of them," said volunteer Gary Beardmore.

There would certainly be some disappointed tummies if the group gave up its pie-making ways.

"We're usually sold out before we're done," said Husman.

But Rosendahl said the sweetness of the day doesn't come from the sugar.

"You stand by someone you don't know well and get acquainted," said Rosendahl.

It comes from sharing a day side by side, learning a little bit more about each other.

"This is a chance, working elbow to elbow, to find out who these people are, what makes them tick," said first-time volunteer Chris Gustafson.

They accomplish a massive feat -- 500 delicious, warm apple pies.

"It turned out wonderful," said Rosendahl.

About 60 to 70 volunteers come out each year to make this effort possible.

Rosendahl said almost all of the pies are pre-ordered but they do hold back a few to sell the day of the pie bake.

The church donates the money raised from the sale to different organizations and uses it to make improvements at the church as well.