AppleFest, an Ithaca tradition, looked slightly different this year. Usually, the event boasts about 200 vendors with carnival games and every sort of apple-flavored treat imaginable. This year the event drastically reduced its capacity to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission and spread.
Instead of the normal massive festival, Downtown Ithaca organized an “Apple and Cider Trail” as well as a small open air market. The trail directed attendees to different participating local businesses who were selling apple themed foods, drinks and gifts. The open air market resembled the usual event but on a much more truncated scale.
The market had five different vendors from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4. Downtown Ithaca decided to restrict the market to weekdays to prevent large crowds from congregating on the weekends. Unfortunately, this severely reduced the numbers of attendees, making business much slower. However, because of these restrictions, social distancing guidelines were followed extremely well with everyone wearing masks and staying six feet apart. The market itself was also gated off so as to not have large gatherings near the vendors.
All of the businesses were farms that had previously participated in the event such as LittleTree Orchards and A.J. Teeter Farm. The lines for the LittleTree Orchard stall were by far the longest. Many were willing to wait twenty plus minutes to get some of their coveted apple cider donuts. I would have to say the wait was definitely worth it. The Littletree Orchard apple cider donuts are a quintessential fall treat. They were flavorful and moist, and if you were bold you could pair them with the warm apple cider from A.J. Teeter Farm. LittleTree Orchard also sold many other apple themed products such as apple chips. If any of this sounds appealing, you can find LittleTree Orchard at the weekly Ithaca Farmers Market.
Other vendors were selling a variety of produce and other products. A.J. Teeter Farm had mini pumpkins, small blueberry baskets and a myriad of different colored gourds in addition to their hot apple cider. Robbie’s Produce also had baked goods and a large variety of apples including Macintosh, Cortland, Honey Crisp and Sweet Tango. Their stand, however, was not limited to perishable goods. Robbie’s Produce also sold beautifully hand-blown glass pumpkins.
Robbie’s Produce was not the only vendor selling gifts. Laughing Goat Fiber Farm had goat hair products such as socks and yarn. Speaking from personal experience, the socks are exceptionally warm, and I would definitely recommend them to anyone preparing for the cold Ithaca winters.
Even though this year it was not truly a festival, everyone at AppleFest was extremely festive. Greeters dressed in apple costumes welcomed attendees to the market and offered maps for the trail. You could see the sense of community and care between the vendors and visitors, despite the fact they were physically distanced. I am extremely glad that Ithaca was able to have AppleFest, even if it was a much smaller version. The community was able to continue the long held tradition even in the wake of a horrible global pandemic, showing their resilience and strength. Hopefully, by this time next year we will be back to having 35,000 to 70,000 visitors come to Ithaca to enjoy all that there is to offer.
Clare Della Valle is a freshman in the College of Industrial Labor Relations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.