September 29, 2008

Community Flocks to Commons For Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival

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This weekend’s rain did not stop Ithaca residents from indulging in the 26th Annual Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival.
According to Downtown Ithaca’s website, the three-day festival has been known to attract an audience of around 30,000 people.
The festival has been a long-time favorite of Cornell students, living up to its motto: “Tempting to the Core.”
“We’ve been counting down for weeks,” said Jamie Goldstein ’10. [img_assist|nid=32161|title=An apple a day|desc=A student purchases apples from a vendor on the Commons at the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival on Saturday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We abstained from eating apples until Apple Fest so we could be fully prepared,” Jamie Hacker ’10 said.
The food at the Apple Festival extends beyond apples. This year’s booths featured potato pancakes, wineries, Cajun food, That Burrito Place, Purity Ice Cream, gyros, cotton candy, cinnamon sugar nuts, kettle corn, a wide variety of baked goods, and of course, apples.
At one of the apple booths, from One of A Kind Orchard, the vendor, Barbara Reynolds, was not only enthusiastic about her own booth, but about the festival in general.
“We’ve been coming here maybe eight, ten years. I love meeting all the interesting people. And when I get a free moment, I always want to get kettle corn,” Reynolds said.
Goldstein said that the apples from One of A Kind Orchard were her favorite part of the festival.
At B&B Kettle Korn, Brenda Hatala expressed how impressed she was with the Apple Harvest Festival.
“The people of Ithaca love kettle corn. It’s our best event we do. The people are friendly and the organization is great,” Hatala said.
Most of the vendors seemed to agree that the Apple Festival is a great opportunity for the people of Ithaca to mingle. The event brings together the people of Ithaca and the surrounding area with the students at both Cornell and Ithaca College.
Heather Dunbar, one of the volunteers at the festival, believed that the music at the festival brought different types of people together.
“This is a town in which when you see a person wearing a t-shirt of their favorite band, the band is likely to be from Ithaca. This is a great opportunity to hear these bands. There are all kinds of people, all ages, which is really nice. The people dancing are children, teens and very old people dancing together in public to a rock band,” Dunbar said.
The Bernie Milton Pavilion in the center of the Commons and the Amphitheatre hosted the performers. Among these performers were jugglers, the Ithaca Dixieland Jazz Group, Ithacapella and Mirage Belly Dance.
The Apple Festival was also home to different causes including a booth for the Obama-Biden campaign, Planned Parenthood and Master Composters.
Composting was a big part of the Apple Festival. In addition to the food, vendors used compostable utensils and paper plates. Volunteers stationed throughout the festival manned the garbage, recycling and composting areas instructing people how to throw out their trash properly.
Kevin Webb, of Tompkins County Cooperative Extension, worked at the booth educating people about composting.
“We’re reducing the waste from the festival,” Webb explained. “We bring the compostable materials to Cayuga Compost.”
By layering the food waste, vegetables and plant matter with different carbon products such as leaves or woodchips, Cayuga Compost can turn the compost into a dirt-like substance which can be used to grow plants in one’s garden more effectively .
This is beneficial for the life of the soil, improving not only the structure of the soil, but preventing harmful runoff that can pollute rivers and lakes.
Ithaca has been very successful with its composting. Webb explained that nationwide about four percent of waste is recycled or composted. In Ithaca, the number is around 50 percent. This composting is extremely beneficial to tax payers because it reduces the waste stream.
The composting booth also had a demonstration of vermi-composting in which red wiggler worms are used to compost food scraps, producing an organic additive for a garden.
In addition to the educational and food aspects of the festival, there were also craft booths and an apple pie eating contest, making the Apple Festival attractive to a wide variety of people.