Crowds of people gathered in the Ithaca Commons this weekend for Tompkins County’s Apple Harvest Festival, an annual celebration of New York’s apple growers and cider makers. Entering its 37th year, the three-day festival has been a long-standing tradition that marks the beginning of fall and highlights local small businesses.
From Friday to Sunday afternoon, area college students and locals enjoyed the wide variety of music, carnival games, tastings and seasonal treats offered to attendees. Over 20 local farmers had stalls centered on the Commons and surrounding streets, selling products and ingredients sourced from Ithaca’s hinterlands, notably including at least five apple donut vendors — long one of the festival’s crowd favorites.
The festival typically receives over 120 vendors and 30,000 visitors throughout its three days of operation.
Beyond Upstate New York’s apples, food vendors also featured international cuisines, such as Greek gyros, West Indian dishes, and Himilayan food from Tibetan Momo.
Ximena Sanchez ’22 said she “looks forward to it every year,” explaining that “this is my fifth year going” and provides a chance “to support local businesses and local growers.”
Families stopped to listen to live music as local bands such as Raquel & the Wildflowers and Kitestrings performed throughout each day. Street performers also provided ambiance, playing flutes, trombones, harmonicas, and other unique instruments.
Andrea Bonds ’20, said that she plays “a little bit of classical and then I’ll do lyrical pieces as well,” explaining that “classical shows off my technical skill, but lyrical kind of captures people’s attention.” The flute-player said this was her fourth year participating as a street musician during AppleFest.
The festival also featured a Cider Passport trail, where people could sample cider from restaurants on the commons like the Moosewood Restaurant and Ithaca Coffee Company. Downtown Ithaca’s website, one of the festival’s organizers, explained that “downtown businesses will be offering delicious ciders by the glass, tastings, pairings, and mixed cider cocktails” and would be entered to win gift cards to shops and eateries in Ithaca.