Warwick celebrates Applefest in summer-like conditions

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:56

WARWICK-It seems that Applefest, Warwick’s largest and most attended event, has always enjoyed pretty good weather. But that may not be entirely true. Betty Garrison, coordinator for this year’s event, recalls that the very first Applefest, 17 years ago, was almost wiped out by a hurricane that hit this area in the early afternoon. However, since then, it’s been clear sailing and Sunday, Oct. 2, was no exception. Visitors enjoyed summer like weather with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. Some people thought the crowds were a little lighter than previous years but Garrison, who has been involved with Applefest since its inception, believes it was about the same size as last year. Since many people arrive and leave at different times and are also taking side trips to go apple picking or see other attractions, the 30,000 to 40,000 estimate may not be far from the mark. Also, for safety considerations, explained Garrison, the children’s amusements were scaled down this year and limited to safer rides and other attractions. The traditional festival has been held since 1988 to celebrate the local apple harvest. This year, Applefest played host to about 300 craft and food vendors. There was also free entertainment, children’s rides and a traditional apple pie contest. Construction worker Joe Guilno won first place in that contest. His wife, the judges reported, stated that he makes a much better peach pie. And Ariana Blake, 14, was the first place winner among the junior entries. An interesting aspect to this story, according to her parents, is that with the help of her dad Max Blake, she was able to use the fruit from a centuries-old apple tree that they discovered on their property. Part of their property had once been an apple orchard and the delicious apples used in her pie are no longer found in this area today. The 2005 Applefest Program Guide was also distributed. It contains vendor names and contact information, events schedule, artists, entertainment locations and educational material about apple varieties and the history of the apple in New York State. The guide also included a map of local orchards open to apple picking. Local merchants also held special sales and promotions. Frazzleberries gift shop, for example, handed out free apples to tourists along with a list of the names and addresses of the local orchards that provided the apples including Ochs, Jessup Road and Warwick Valley. “It was my son, Jerry’s, idea and it’s a demonstration of how we can all work together,” said Mary Beth Schlichting, owner of Frazzleberries. The Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Warwick Valley Community Center were the hosts of Applefest 2005. Local businesses also help sponsor the event Applefest is a major fund raiser and proceeds from the event are used for town-wide community projects and non-profit organizations.