It’s all about apples at Apple Hill
Festival celebrates a small fruit that plays a big role in California's economy.
Most of the people enjoying themselves at this year’s Placerville Apple Hill Festival had one thing on their mind: to get as many apples and apple products as possible! Treats ranged from toffee apples and those tempting fritters to a whole variety of apple jams and, of course, apple donuts and homemade apple pies.
But most of the thousands of people who come to this event have no idea of its history. The festival was actually started by ranchers who were worried about the demise of another crop – pears.
“Apple Hill was created from necessity. The pear industry was in crisis because of a disease called pear decline. There were few apple growers at the time and the marketing effort was up to the individual grower,” said Dave Bolster, a third-generation apple grower. “So a few of the growers recognized the need to create a direct-marketing program and bring people up here and sell their products directly to the customer.”
The idea took off, and soon local apple growers realized their seed of an idea was bearing plenty of fruit. They had a hit!
“The first year they anticipated 3,000 or 4,000 people and they had almost 10,000 people,” Dave said. “By the fifth or sixth year of the festival, they were getting about 50,000 people over two weekends.”
Today about 55 different farmers are involved in this very successful festival, selling Golden Delicious, Fujis, Winesaps and other varieties. Most of them open their doors on Labor Day weekend and sell their crop direct to the public until December.
Apples may be small in size, but the fruit plays a big role in the California’s economy. The fruit generates more than $500 million dollars a year, making the Golden State the country's fifth largest apple-producing state. About 30,000 acres of land are dedicated to growing apples. And although California exports about 30 percent of the crop, farmers in the Placerville area say they prefer selling their produce direct to customers, at events just like the Apple Hill Festival.
For more information about visiting Apple Hill, check out www.applehill.com.