110-year-old apple press running as strong as ever for Apple 'n Arts Festival this weekend
Harvey Bush estimated that the 110-year-old cider press at Shields Farm in Delmont processes at least 2,000 bushels of apples each year. That's a little over 250,000 medium-sized apples.
And since Bush has been involved in pressing cider for the Apple 'n Arts Festival since 1982, he's had a hand in turning more than 8.5 million apples into delicious cider during the past 34 years.
The festival will run Saturday and Sunday, but Bush has been at the Shields Farm property throughout the week, taking apple deliveries and prepping the press for its annual run.
And anytime you're working with a 110-year-old piece of machinery, Bush said, maintenance is something you have to keep an eye on.
“(Maintenance) depends on what happens over the course of the year,” he said. “Last year, we put new knives in the cutter head. This year, we've automated things a little bit. We put in another conveyer and set of rollers to handle the crates of cider after they're jugged, to make things a little more efficient.”
Bush and other members of the Fort Allen Antique Farm Equipment Association bought the press and restored it to working condition after finding it at a Cambria County farm. It is housed within a building constructed from timbers that were once part of buildings at the Greensburg Country Club.
The press is run entirely by volunteers, and it takes a decent-size crew to man it.
“You have two or three guys on the press, and you have the guy feeding the dumper,” Bush said. “You have two or three people jugging, guys feeding the jugs down the line and three people selling it.
“It probably takes about a dozen people to run it well,” Bush said.
Over the four days of pressing, Bush and other volunteers will jug more than 7,000 gallons of cider. Cider sales serve as the main fundraiser for the antique farm equipment association.
The annual pre-sale for the cider begins at 3 p.m. today and runs until dusk. It will continue from noon to dusk Friday.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.