ST. GEORGE — Saturday is National Pi Day, a somewhat official, somewhat unofficial celebration of math and all things pie.
Locally, there are several places to get a great pie – sweet or savory – but none with quite the unique distinction of being a favorite stopping place for cyclists, runners and triathletes as Veyo Pies.
“There is a history of pies in Veyo that goes back way over 30 years ago,” Devaney Lomenick said in an email to St. George News.
Lomenick has been the owner of the pie shop since 2009, but she has been involved with the shop in different capacities off-and-on since 1995, she said.
It’s a family business, she said, adding that even employees who aren’t related by blood become family.
It’s that family vibe, along with the delicious pies and other offerings, that today draws people from all over the world to stop in for a tasty treat. A map on the small shop’s wall inviting guests to place a pin in the state or country they are from seems to attest to the store’s worldwide patronage.
Beyond the store’s broad popularity, the sweet shop has a unique appeal with athletes in Southern Utah, many of whom cycle or run past Veyo Pies while they are training for events like Ironman St. George and the St. George Marathon.
Southern Utah-based triathlete Rick Bruin said he first met Lomenick while training for the 2010 Ironman St. George, the first Ironman event to be held in the area.
“I was riding my bike through Veyo and made a pit stop at her store,” Bruin said, adding that he and the shop owner have been friends ever since.
Lomenick said the shop’s support of triathletes began around the same time as many cyclists would train on the Ironman St. George bike course, which rode along Highway 18 through a portion of Veyo.
“We love the sanctioned, organized races that share the respect for sharing the road, and pie,” Lomenick said of both the Ironman and marathon events that pass through.
In 2013, the triathlon was transitioned to an Ironman 70.3 event and the bike course no longer went through Veyo, but the area remains popular among cyclists and runners year-round, many of whom stop for pies or other treats during their training.
“If you don’t stop and get a piece of pie or a cookie, you’re crazy,” Marc Mortensen, director of support services for the city of St. George, said in a 2016 St. George News story about the designation of the Veyo Loop bike route as Washington County’s first official bike route.
Celebrations for that 2016 designation included a stop at Veyo Pies, and the purveyors of sweet confections have hosted several other events supporting athletes throughout the years.
“She has been very supportive of me as well as the crew of the Southern Utah Tri Club,” Bruin said of Lomenick. “She supports us by having club pie rides we call ‘Moonlight and Pies’ once a year.”
Bruin said he likes to get special treats – strawberry danishes – which he has affectionately named “squishies.”
“During a pit stop, I take one of the danishes home with me wrapped up in my back pocket of a biking jersey. By the time I get it home and unwrap, it turns into a delicious squishy that is quite refreshing with a glass of cold milk,” he said.
Bruin’s favorite pie there, however, is warm mountain berry with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top.
Veyo Pies acts as an unofficial sponsor for Bruin.
“We unofficially sponsor Rich because we know him, his beautiful family, and all the triathletes he surrounds himself with. We’re proud he will wear our name on his uniform,” Lomenick said.
In May, the full Ironman will return to St. George, and Lomenick said she is excited to be able to cheer on all the athletes as they ride through Veyo once more.
About National Pi Day
Pi Day celebrates the date on the calendar that matches the mathematical constant that is the best approximation of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter (3.14), a previous St. George News report said.
Its origins date back to 1988 when physicist Larry Shaw began celebrating the mathematical constant at the San Fransisco Science Museum the Exploratorium where he was a scientist and curator. The celebrations always began with the eating of pies – both fruit and pizza – and included other events such as parades and singing Happy Birthday to Albert Einstein, who was born March 14, 1879.
In 2009, the day was recognized as a national holiday by the U.S. House of Representatives, and today it continues to be celebrated both nationally and internationally.
As for Lomenick, whose favorite pie is rhubarb, she said she had no idea the day would become Veyo Pies’ biggest non-holiday, holiday.
The most sold pie on the menu at Veyo Pies is banana cream, Lomenick said, but the favorite pie of the day varies so they try to keep a wide variety available each day, including this Saturday.
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