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Les Peck speaks to guests during the 43rd annual Peck’s Picnic at his Nampa home.

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For 43 years, Lester and Mary Peck have been holding “A Patriotic Barbecue,” sometimes on the Fourth of July, but always in the vicinity thereof. The Pecks are self-described “staunch democrats” and their barbecues with 100+ people in attendance are fundraisers for the Canyon County Democrats — there’s always an auction component. The event is as American as the holiday of which it is held around, and of course, Mom — and (Mary Peck’s) apple pie. Or pecan or coconut cream.

People in the community look forward to it, said Rex Hanson in an email to Idaho Press. “Lester is a wonderful character and has some great stories he loves to relate,” Hanson wrote. And “Mary has been famous for baking pies for the event, which have been the subject of bidding wars among friendly rivals in the auction.”

The Pecks are now both in their 90s — Lester is due to turn 95 soon “and I just passed the 92 mark,” said Mary.

Mary said the biggest barbecue and fundraiser they ever had was when Larry LaRocco was running for Congress. That year, the Pecks included a golf meet with the other festivities. “We raised over $15,000,” she said.

Last year the barbecue event was skipped due to the pandemic, although they were able to have an online auction, Mary said.

Speaking of auctions, one — or two or three, depending on the year — of the most popular items has always been Mary’s homemade pies: pecan, lemon meringue or coconut cream.

“I don’t know if they’re that great,” Mary said. “But one lady came to the barbecue this year because she heard there would be my pies. I guess they’ve just become a fixture. They say: ‘You will have pies there’ — and you can’t say no.” The filling this year was pecan and Mary baked two of them. “They sold at auction for $100 apiece,” she said.

“My husband — and my — main goal was always to help the working people … to help people get to a better life.”

“Maybe we will do (this) another year if our health is good — and we’re still around. We enjoy doing it. We meet a lot of good people.”

Jeanne Huff is the community engagement editor for the Idaho Press. You can reach her at 208-465-8106 and follow her on Twitter @goodnewsgirl.

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