Pumpkin spice? Pfftt, Delmont Apple 'n Arts Festival thinks not
Enjoy the satisfying crunch of biting into a Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Gala or Honeycrisp?
Savoring the season of apple cider, apple dumplings, apple strudel?
Whatever your favorite version of arguably autumn's favorite fruit, you likely can find it at the Delmont Apple 'n Arts Festival, on Oct. 7 and 8 at Shields Farm.
This year marks the festival's 35th anniversary, and the 110th anniversary of its apple press, says Brandy Walters, a board member and communications coordinator for the all-volunteer festival group.
"We've made a couple of adjustments over the years to keep it going," Walters says of the press.
Built by the Hydraulic Press Manufacturing Company in north-central Ohio, the press was discovered by the Fort Allen Antique Farm Equipment Association in Patton, Cambria County.
Fort Allen's mission is preserving and restoring antique farm equipment. Each year during the festival, members offer visitors live demonstrations, tractors to view, and a tractor raffle. Members help operate the 1907 antique apple press, making 5,000 gallons of fresh-pressed cider.
"It depends on the apple crop. It can (make) 5,000, 6,000, or more gallons," Walters says.
The festival began with the donation of the land where it is held, the Shields Farm, to the borough, she says.
"We wanted to do something that empowered Delmont to help out the community," Walters says.
Festival proceeds often reach about $15,000 each year, she says, depending on expenses, sponsorships, weather and attendance. That money helps support community nonprofits including the Westmoreland County Food Bank, Boy and Girl Scout troops, the Delmont Public Library and area churches.
"We also wanted to give organizations the opportunity to earn money. We started with all community booths," Walters says.
Some of those community booths continue to operate each year, but the festival's expansion led to inviting other vendors to participate, she says.
Among the newer food vendors, back for a second year, is the Delmont Area Athletic Association, selling homemade French fries. An August storm caused thousands of dollars in wind damage at the group's four baseball and softball field at Shields Farm.
Many of the crafts and decorations sold have an autumn theme, Walters says. More than 200 craft and food vendors will offer everything from household goods to toys to stocking stuffers, along with keeping festivalgoers' stomachs full.
"We have a couple of apple dumpling vendors. New this year is a vendor with apple strudel. We haven't had that for a few years," Walters says.
Nature's Life Spices also has a vendor booth this year, selling homemade spice blends. Additional new vendors and their wares may be found on the festival's Facebook page .
And if the apple of your eye — ages 3 months to 4 years only — has the kind of cheeks no grandma can resist pinching, you can enter your tyke in the Baby Apple Cheeks contest on Oct. 7.
"We get about 75 kids. It's very fun," Walters says.
If you enjoy baking, make a pie, cake, or other treat that includes fresh apples as the main ingredient, and drop off an entry for the Apple Bake judges on Oct. 8.
"We get a lot of the same people (every year). We would love to encourage more entries, more participants. It's another fun thing. A lot of people go to extremes with (decorating) their entries," Walters says.
Entrants must register for both events in advance, she says.
Also new this year is a Western Pennsylvania Firefighters Memorial Honor Guard mobile safety training unit. Members will provide fire prevention and safety tips during the festival.
"We mix up our (live) music, we always have different bands on stage. We change up the entertainment every year," Walters says.
In addition to the focus on all things apple, the festival offers Paul's A-Trains, a barnyard petting zoo, Well Springs Jumping Balloon, pony rides and petting zoos.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or email@example.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.
Among the biggest lines at the festival are those for vendors serving apple dumplings.
• This recipe is from bettycrocker.com, and can be made traditionally or more hearty by adding raisins and nuts.
• Looking to upscale a popular comfort dessert? Food Kitchen Network offers this (shortcut) recipe for Salted Caramel-Apple Strudel.