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‘Family is what’s important’: Hords’ annual Pizzapalooza features outdoor fun, Native food and friends

For nearly 10 years, Andrea Hord’s family and friends have cooked up a fun way to mark the end of each camping season with a celebration they’ve given a quirky name: Pizzapalooza and Pumpkin Pizzazz.

There’s a story behind those pizzas and the pumpkin nod to fall. Summer camping together started after an idea to share the rural family property, where a small, tight-knit group brings up their camp trailers. Hord, 51, and husband Brian Hord, 55, own the site.

“Ten years ago, we bought that chunk of land, and we try to get our kids and ourselves outdoors as much as possible, and we’ve invited our family and friends,” said Hord, an office manager at Audubon Elementary. “It’s hard to find good camping these days that doesn’t cost a lot.

“The property is about an hour north of Spokane. We have 6.6 acres on a creek, so there’s no electricity or running water. It’s just a great place to leave the city of Spokane, cell service, look at the stars at night and listen to bullfrogs. We have daughters, and it’s good to get them off the cellphones and tablets.”

Hord grew up camping with her parents in a motorhome but didn’t tent camp until she met her husband. “That is a foolish endeavor,” she joked. “We all have trailers up there. But definitely, people come and tent camp.”

Hord said her dad Loren Shafer had the vision and did a long search for the land. He covered the down payment.

“The deal with my dad was that all our family, all the cousins, nieces, nephews and everybody in the family could camp there because a lot of campgrounds had become so expensive,” she said. “It was my dad, mom and brother – we all went in. My dad and brother have since passed away.

“It was a family unspoken bond that it’s a family place. We’re all about the kids. Brian’s got 15 bikes up there. The kids like to ride bikes and play in the creek.”

Her mother Mary Shafer, 77, camps annually with them, staying in her trailer for weekends with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“She is our matriarch, and because of her and my dad, we have that place. So we’re four generations of women in our family that our passion is food and serving. Our love language is to feed you, I guess. My mom always brings things for everybody. Family is what’s important to her.”

Hord’s parents also previously owned a tavern, where her father kept a large barbecue made out of a big oil drum. It was used to roast a pig for big groups.

They brought that cooker to the property in the beginning while debating what else to cook on it. “We decided pizza,” she said.

The recent Pizzapalooza on Sept. 18 drew about 40 people – for a socially distanced outdoors get-together – and a good turnout despite rain. Hord said it’s something people look forward to while the group perfects the making of pizzas in that large cooker.

The group also includes a Native tradition – cooking fry bread to become the base for the pizzas. Hord’s adult daughter Shantel Whitford is a Kalispel Tribal member who on that weekend showed her younger relatives how to make the fry bread.

The season-ending tradition always happens near the end of September, and each year the food keeps getting better. However, the day really centers on enjoying relatives, friends and the relaxing beauty of the outdoors as kids play nearby, Hord said.

Some in the recent group had camped there for the season, while others came up for the day. When the tradition started, the pizzas went through trial and error.

“Pizzas take a really hot oven, so the first year, we tried different crusts, but then everybody’s crust was done at a different time, so that didn’t work,” Hord said. “The next year, I bought one kind of crust at URM, and everybody just brought different toppings. That was better, but the pizza oven wasn’t hot enough.

“My husband did some research and development to get it at a higher heat, so through the years, Brian and all the men helped develop a better system. We can cook all kinds of stuff on that bugger now.”

The entree got notched up after a discovery when the family visited a Kalispel Tribe powwow and had pizza on fry bread.

“It was delicious, so we did pizza on fry bread. Our daughter Shantel made all the dough, and my 7-year-old also helped with the dough. They brought it to camp, and we just fried it at camp in two woks, so it was so fun. Our oldest granddaughter, Emmarose, flipped the fry bread. She’s 15. It was a family operation.”

Hord said she enjoyed seeing Shantel show her younger relatives how to get the bread ready to fry while one of the youngest shaped it like hearts for some in the group. Then, people chose their toppings before the pizzas went into the cooker to melt the cheese.

The Hords have three grown daughters and a total of 12 grandchildren. The couple is raising four of their grandchildren. One of them is Onah, 7, who took well to making the fry bread dough. The youngest granddaughter in their care is Charleigh, 11 months.

Family and friends get to bond at the camp property, Hord said. “We are raising four granddaughters, so we do have a really good village of friends who surround us and support us and our girls. We’re so thankful.

“Because of COVID and how separated everybody had to be, it was so nice to be able to have an outdoor place where we could come together but be safe and the kids can have fun. There’s a park that the kids play in, and we have mini woods they can play in. They can have fun while all the adults have a break.

“We already have some ideas for next year, and it gives us something to look forward to. It’s good to carry on traditions with your family and friends. It’s good for our granddaughters to learn the traditional way of making the bread. They’re going to pass that down.”

The pumpkin items are desserts, doughnuts, pie and “anything pumpkin from Trader Joe’s,” Hord said.

For the pizzas, each individual picked their own toppings to go onto the fry bread base, but one man “had the bomb pizza,” she said, after asking to have his ingredients fried inside the bread. That’s the next go-to.

“We’re going to take it up one more notch,” Hord said. “Next year, we’re going to fold it up and fry it. It will be the best one yet.”

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