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Nothing ordinary about the apples at Heirloom festival

October 19, 2005

Some apples you aren’t likely to find at the supermarket.

Hood River Valley growers celebrate those green, red, and golden rarities this weekend.

“Old” apple varieties such as Spitzenburg, Rome Beauty, Newton, Pippin, Winter Banana and Ortley are at the heart of the Fruit Loop’s Heirloom Apple and Cider Festival, Saturday and Sunday.

“Heirloom” or “classic” apple varieties can trace their heritage back 100 years or more. Their individual flavors and aromas have been compared to those of different vintages of wine.

The festival will feature fresh-pressed apple cider, hard cider, apple cider donuts, and many other apple desserts and treats.

* Kiyokawa Orchards will serve up a huge selection of fruit at their heirloom Apples and Asian Pear Tasting. They’ll be offering tastes of more than 60 varieties of apples and pears. It costs just $1 per person to try them all. Try them, buy some ready-picked to take home, or pick fruit yourself in their U-pick orchard. They’re also offering self-guided orchard tours for all, hayrides, and a two-story bin fort for the kids.

* A & J Enterprises will offer scenic orchard tours. Mt. Hood Organic Farms will welcome visitors with 10 varieties of organic apples, aapple and cheese sampling, and packing house and orchard tours.

* Stop by Apple Valley for a taste complement to the flavor of apples-huckleberries.

It’s their annual Huckleberry Harvest Celebration, featuring huckleberry pies, hot huckleberry cider, frosty huckleberry milkshakes, huckleberry jam, and more.

* Visit Packer Orchards and Cookie Stop Bakery for sweet and crunchy peanut brittle, made while you watch. Local Boy Scouts will be making and selling cider, too.

* Rasmussen Farms serves up more than 30 kinds of heirloom and experimental apples. Try free samples and select your favorites to take home.

Rasmussens is a favorite stop for the kids, with their award-winning Pumpkin Funland display, a corn maze, Halloween Hut, pumpkin bowling, and huge pumpkin patch.

* Pheasant Valley Winery will be offering heirloom apple varieties to complement their delicious wines.

* It’s “Apple-Rama” weekend at Pearl’s Place, with a wide selection of tasty apples and other fruit.

* Cider fresh-pressed on site with an old-style cider press is just one of the offerings at Smiley’s Red Barn.

* The folks at Draper’s Farm will be making their popular fresh cider throughout the weekend, too.

Many consider heirloom apples the most desirable for making pies and other baked goods, cider, and applesauce. Many are great “eating” apples too.

But the older varieties may not store as well as some of the commercial varieties, may be more susceptiable to disease or pests, or may bruise more easily. They aren’t as successful in today’s huge commercial market.

Admission and parkng at all Fruit Loop attractions is free. Farms and attractions along the Fruit Loop are open from at least 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (wineries open at 11 a.m.).

For complete information about the Heirloom Apple and Cider Festival, call (541) 386-7697.

For a listing of Fruit Loop farms, attractions and individual operating hours, and for an easy-to-follow map, visit the Fruit Loop Web site at: www.hoodriverfruitloop.com

Printed copies are available at the Mt. Hood Country Store, on Highway 35 at the south end of the Hood River Valley.

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