You’ve heard of the Apple Harvest Festival, but have you heard of Cider Week? Cider Week, Apple Fest’s lesser-known older sibling, kicked off this weekend, offering a variety of events around the Finger Lakes through October 9.
Determined to explore Ithaca a little more and enjoy some cider in the meantime, I made my Cider Week agenda and set my alarm for early Saturday morning. I took the 9:00 a.m. bus from the Commons out to the Danby Fire Station, past Ithaca College, and walked to Three Swallows Farm. The farm, part of the Full Plate Farm Collective, was hosting a cider tasting, selling Whale Cat doughnuts and offering its weekly produce pick-up for CSA members.
Not a community supported agriculture member, I felt a bit out of place as people shuffled through the barn collecting their goods. But not wanting to waste my long trip out to Danby, I soon picked up some clippers and joined the work party. It was great to spend a few hours working the farm, trimming invasive species and talking to Cornell plant science graduate students.
Once the farm manager was satisfied with our progress, we walked back to the barn and enjoyed live music and hot apple cider. I also sampled some delicious honey and tried one of the ubiquitous Whale Cat doughnuts — all apple-themed, of course.
Meanwhile, Apple Fest was happening back in Ithaca. There, several cider makers offered tastings of their finest. As an underage citizen, I happily tried Good Life Farm’s ginger beer and “switch” soda, both made at their farm. The ginger beer was as expected, its flavor spicy yet clean. The switch, a vinegar-based soda with maple syrup, honey, apple cider and spices, was unlike anything I’d ever tasted. The makers even promised “It’s really good for you!”
Cider Week, however, does not stop there. The event promises to be a “celebration of the hard cider revival in New York apple country,” but I found it to be much more than that.
I loved leaving campus for a morning and spontaneously working at a community farm just as much as sampling cider on the Commons. In fact, our very own Cornell Orchards grows apples that are made into hard cider. Who knew?
There are many events throughout this week that would make a great outing during Fall Break, ranging from pretentious to fun and casual.
And if you don’t have a car, you don’t have to walk out to Danby like I did. Check out the apple-themed menu at the Statler’s Taverna Banfi or the cider entrée at the Regent Lounge. I would also recommend trying the cider ice cream and sorbet offered at Cayuga Lake Creamery.
So get out there and meet the cider makers, visit a farm and appreciate the apple bounty of the Finger Lakes region. You won’t regret it!