October 2, 2006

Commons Hosts Harvest Festival

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Ithaca surely bought into the mantra “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” this weekend as students and locals explored the city’s 24th annual Apple Harvest Festival.

Attendees could savor the flavor of fall as vendors sold gourmet candy apples, pies, muffins and hot-spiced cider.

In addition to offering a variety of produce, baked goods and local wines, the celebration showcased the talents of local merchants, performers and artists from the Ithaca region.

Performances ranged from gypsy swing dance and juggling to bluegrass acts. Local craftspeople sold a variety of paintings, jewelry and clothing.

The Festival brought the annual Apple-Pie Eating Contest back to the Commons, as participants stuffed their faces with crust and filling.

Some Cornellians who attended were involved in this year’s Festival, including the Society of Horticulture Graduate Students, who showcased both popular New York apples varieties, as well as lesser-known species, from a successful breeding project performed at the University.

Society President Vinay Pagay grad explained the importance of the Festival to his group.

“The annual Harvest Festival gives us an opportunity to sell our apples to a larger market, as well as an opportunity for the graduate students to interact with each other through the fun and friendly activity of picking, packing and selling apples,” he said.

Master composters from the University’s Compost Education Program were also present at the Festival, providing composting information and collecting food scraps. Last year, their efforts totaled 1,300 lbs.

This year’s three-day fair was sponsored by the Ithaca Down­town Partnership, the Tom­pkins Trust Company and the Ithaca Times.