Applefest begins without many apples

Late growing season prevents apples from being at the fest

The  annual Applefest kicks off on Sept. 18. It’s been 66 years since the first Applefest kicked off in September 1949 to celebrate the local harvest. Through the years, though, the growing season has gotten later and later, meaning the apples that used to be the center of the fest are no longer ready.

“Orchards are harvesting right now, they’re out there picking,” said Mary Lehrman, the president of Applefest. “We used to have all of them set up stands and they’re just not available to do that and staff that anymore.”

To keep the spirit of the festival alive community members are working hard to create new attractions.

To make up for the absent apples, festival coordinators have created new traditions like an annual beer. This year the beer is called Apple Weizen, abeer brewed locally and made out of wheat and apples.

“I was able to secure some fresh apple juice from Van Lin orchards over in La Crescent and stored it over the winter and brewed it this summer.” said Joe Katchever, brewmaster at Pearl Street Brewery.

Thousands of gallons have already been brewed for the event. This is the first time Pearl Street Brewery can take part in the fest after getting its Minnesota liquor license.

“It’s really exciting for us many of our friends and family live in La Crescent and many of our employees are actually from La Crescent, so it’s great that we finally get to sell beer over the river,” said Katchever.

In addition to the beer there are plenty of other attractions for adults at this year’s fest.

“There is live entertainment nightly at the refreshment tent we also have the arts and crafts fair, classic car show, and that takes place on Saturday,” said Lehrman.

There are many events for family too.

“We have the kiddie parade that takes place on Saturday and that’s followed by the big wheel race. We also have quite a variety of smaller rides for kids they can enjoy at the carnival,” said Lehrman.

The festival runs through Sunday, Sept. 21.