AppleFest: the festival of the season that symbolizes the arrival of Fall in Ithaca, gathering bakers, food truckers, farmers, foodies and critics alike to the festival of apple lovers. Though the festival has evolved from a pure celebration of the apple harvest to a mixture of food vendors, commercial stands, carnival booths and performances, the spirit of the fall celebration remains. As a third-time visitor to the three-day festival, I set my foot into the Ithaca Commons this past rainy Saturday late morning to see what the festival brought this year.
It was just around 11:00 a.m. when I stepped into the Commons. First stop: apple cider donuts. As a “veteran” of the festival, my first strategy was obviously to look for the longest line around. Fortunately, the donut stand was located somewhat near the entrance, so it was easy to locate. Were they worth the hype? Personally, I feel like sprinkling them with some cinnamon sugar would add some more flavor, but as traditions do not always involve perfection, the donuts are definitely still worth waiting for. Talk to those waiting next to you while waiting in line, complain about the line and the crowdedness and you could even make a new friend.
This year’s AppleFest gave a more innovative touch to the traditional apple-related foods. Surely, the caramel apples, apple Danishes, pies and cider were abundant, but in addition to these were some stellar creations that became “apples of my eye”: apple Brie whole wheat grilled cheese with The Piggery jowl bacon from Omnomnomlettes, smoked gouda apple mac ’n’ cheese from Coltivare, pumpkin funnel cake — the list goes on. Stepping away from the traditional sweet and tart of apples, vendors stretched their minds in incorporating savory with sweet, while retaining apples’ original flavors.
Were there any cons? The food prices were extremely high for the portion size — I spent $17 on just two servings of food — and squishing through the crowd of people felt like walking through Times Square. Nonetheless, AppleFest is a once-per-year experience that should not be missed, either as an official welcome to Fall or just as a reason to eat more food.