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Small Town, Big Apple Festival

by Rachel Coughtry
AJ Special Reporter
September 1st, 2002
Mason, Wisconsin

Falling leaves and woodsmoke in the air mean just one thing to the people of Bayfield, Wisconsin - Apple Festival. This year's 41st annual Bayfield Apple Festival will be on October 4-6 -- just in time for the harvest and the first chilly breezes of autumn.

Its variety of apple-related activities, crafts, and foods have earned the three-day celebration the title of "The Best Festival in Wisconsin." The Festival features apple cider, apple jam, caramel apples, apple dumplings, apple butter, apple baked beans, apple mustard, apple wine, a new twist on a Wisconsin favorite -- apple bratwurst, and of course, apple pie. A juried art fair, apple-peeling contest, Venetian boat parade, strolling musicians, and stage performances round out the weekend.

The Festival brings over 200 vendors to Bayfield, and draws more than 50,000 visitors to the tiny town of 600 residents. "We actually sell about one-third of what we grow just at this festival," comments Jim Hauser Jr., one of the owners of Hauser's Superior View Farm. "The Festival really brings the market to us. The whole family comes home that weekend to pitch in and help run all of our booths at the Festival and help out with the activities we have going on at the farm, which include pony rides for the kids and wine tasting. It really brings a lot of people to Bayfield."

First established in 1865 as a shipping port, with access to local lumber yards and Brownstone quarries, Bayfield is now a popular tourist destination. The hilly landscape benefits from Lake Superior's warming effects in the winter and cool summers - and these characteristics make it the perfect setting for orchards and berry farms.

The area boasts more than a dozen apple orchards, numerous berry farms, and organic farms that sell everything from fresh eggs to dried flowers and wine. The Apple Festival offers an opportunity for local apple growers to gather together in what has become a traditional celebration of another successful season. "We've been involved in the Bayfield Apple Festival for nineteen years, now ? as long as we've been in business," says Einer Olsen, owner of the Bayfield Apple Company, one of the region's larger apple cider producers. "It's just a lot of fun. People come to the Festival because they're out to have a good time."

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