Swarms of hungry people flocked to the Commons this weekend in hopes of getting their hands on apples dripping of mouthwatering caramel and steaming glasses of apple cider.
Ithaca’s 27th Downtown Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival, more commonly known as Applefest, offered an eclectic range of performances, food and activities that attracted many who looked forward to a weekend of fun.
Applefest remained true to its name. Some vendors sold fresh apples of an array of colors, shapes and sizes, while others flexed their creative muscles and prepared almost every apple recipes imaginable: Candied apples, apple crisps, apple cider, apple pies and apple funnel cakes were all available for purchase.
Aside from fruit of honor, Applefest showcased other refreshments that contributed to the delicious, aromatic scent that filled the Commons this weekend. Ethnic food stands were present, featuring Thai and other Asian cuisine. Other stands sold a variety of foods and beverages that included popcorn, pies, tea, wines, lemonade and ices, to name a few.
For the small businesses at the festival, like Eve’s Cider & Orchards, which sold apples and ciders, the event proved beneficial, especially during a year of recession. “[Applefest] brings in money at a good time of year and it gives us exposure to the community,” said Ezra Sherman, owner of Eve’s Cider & Orchards.
Food was not the only element that captivated the crowd. Craftspeople stationed along Cayuga Street showcased a dazzling array of jewelry, paintings, prints and other works of art. Those seeking a break from shopping and eating could enjoy a panoramic view of the festival on the Ferris Wheel across the street, or take a ride on the slide.
In addition to vendors of food and the arts, activist groups espousing various causes also set up stands at the festival to engage with the Ithaca community.
“[Applefest] gives us a great opportunity to talk with people and get the message out,” said Rebecca Elgie, a promoter of single-payer health care.
Performances also occurred throughout the weekend, mostly at the Bernie Milton Pavilion and the Amphitheatre. The Downtown Ithaca Alliance estimated that the festival featured “over 150 individual performers as part of at least 20 groups of entertainment,” according to their website. The performances included a capella by groups from Cornell University and Ithaca College, belly dancing and a chef competition show.
As a weekend celebration, Applefest provided many with a break from their day-to-day routine with food and fun. “I like the atmosphere; there’s a mix of students from Cornell and Ithaca College, and local families are here too. The air smells delicious with so much food around.” Olena Nazarenko ’13 said.
“I liked the candy apples,” remarked Nathalie Wiesendanger ’13. “Although I thought [Applefest] was a bit less festive than it could have been, but maybe that was because of the rain [on Sunday].”