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Charlevoix, Michigan’s Apple Festival Celebrates Michigan Apples

Published by Ed Trear

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The 32nd Charlevoix Apple Festival taking place from Friday, October 8 through Sunday, October 10, 2018 in Charlevoix, Michigan, is just one of the thousands of apple festivals being held across America during National Apple Month in October.

The Charlevoix Apple Festival Offers Apples and Entertainment

Since its beginning in 1979 as a way of honoring local orchards and apple growers, the festival has expanded from everything apple to offer a craft show, entertainment, and family fun. Festival activities include a holiday art and craft show, face painting, pony rides and a petting zoo.

Dozens of apple farmers will offer more than 30 apple varieties as well as fresh apple cider, pies and caramel apples at the festival.

For Friske Orchards in Atwood, Michigan, this is their 25th year at the festival. Heidi Friske said that the Charlevoix Apple Festival has grown substantially over the years. “It’s one of those annual events that I think many people in the community really look forward to because it’s just a great time of the year,” she said.

Farmers will also offer other fall produce including pumpkins, squash, local honey, maple syrup, and cider. Local organizations will also sell hot food items including chili, hot dogs, kielbasa and French fries. Local restaurants also get in the festival spirit by featuring apple dishes or apple specials.

Apples are a Major Michigan Crop

Charlevoix is one of the areas that grow enough apples to make Michigan the third apple producing state in the country. Apples are the largest Michigan fruit crop, with over eight million apple trees in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The cool temperatures of Michigan yield tastier and more colorful apples than warmer climates and apple orchards dot the Michigan landscape.

In 2005, Michigan produced 780 million pounds of apples and the state is the top supplier of apple slices for commercial apple pies, and is a major producer of applesauce and apple cider. The apple blossom is Michigan’s official state flower.

Apples are a National Fruit

The dedicated work of Michigan apple growers has made Michigan the third largest producer of apples in the United States. The state of Washington grows the largest amount of apples in the United States, New York, the second, Michigan the third, Pennsylvania, the fourth and California the fifth. The top sixteen varieties of apples America produces in order are: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Rome, Idared, Jonathan, Empire, York, Cortland, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening and Stayman.

In 2002, the average U.S. consumer ate an estimated 15.8 pounds of fresh apples, and 26.4 pounds of processed apples for a total of 42.2 pounds of yearly fresh and processed apple eating.

Apples Have Pedigree

Charlevoix and other communities in Michigan have a history of growing apples and apples have a worldwide history too. The apple tree originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Sea and archeologists have discovered that humans have been enjoying apples since at least 6,500 B.C. In 50 B.C., Cicero, a Roman author, statesman, and philosopher urged his fellow Romans to save the apple seeds from their desserts to develop new plants. In 79 A.D., Pliny the Elder described 20 different kinds of apples in his book, Natural History.

In 200 A.D., Galen and later Hippocrates, famous Greek physicians living in Rome, recommended eating sweet apples with meals to aid digestion and sour apples for fainting and constipation. In 400 A.D., Saint Jerome, the founder of Monasticism, instructed his monks to spend more time grafting and budding fruit trees to escape “sloth and the devil.”

Apples Have Biology

Apples are a member of the rose family and they can range in size from a little larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit. They have five seed pockets or carpels and the vigor and health of the plant determines the number of seeds per carpel. Different varieties of apples have a different number of seeds. Planting an apple seed from a specific apple won’t produce the same kind of tree. The seed is a cross of the tree that produced the fruit and the cross pollinator. It takes energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.

There are apples that leave an apple after- taste like pears, citrus, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, strawberries, grapes and pineapple

John Chapman, Alias Johnny Appleseed, Plants Michigan Apples

European settlers brought apple seeds with them to New York in the 1600s. A New Englander named John Chapman introduced apple seeds to Pennsylvania and the Midwestern States. John Chapman left New England when he was about 25 years old and started his journey west.

Contrary to popular opinion, John Chapman, now known as Johnny Appleseed, didn’t scatter apple seeds, but being a careful nurseryman he calculated the supplies of seeds and seedlings that he would need and carefully planted them. Early settlers used apples for a food staple and homestead law required each settler to plant 50 apple trees their first year of homesteading, so Johnny Appleseed always traveled with a supply of apple seeds.

Johnny Appleseed started many nurseries in the Midwest by planting seeds that he had carried from the cider mills in Pennsylvania. He owned many tracts of land in Ohio and Indiana and he used his land to plant apple seeds, transplant seedlings and set out orchids. He sold apple seedlings to people who could afford to pay for them and he provided people without money with housing, food and other necessities.

A zealous preacher of his Swedenborgian religion, Johnny Appleseed shared his religious tracts and his Bible. Johnny Appleseed wandered barefoot on his apple mission for over 50 years from western Pennsylvania through northern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois and Michigan.

Charlevoix Celebrates Michigan Apples

Johnny Appleseed left some of his apples in Michigan as well as warning the settlers in Detroit that the British were invading during the War of 1812. For Johnny Appleseed, apple seeds and apple trees were his celebration and his homecoming.

Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce President Erin Bemis expressed the same thought 21st Century style when he said, “It’s a great time of the year. You get to be at an outdoor festival in the fall and enjoy the colors…It’s a last hurrah, a homecoming, a big culmination of the festival year.”

The 32nd Charlevoix Apple Festival runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8 and Saturday, Oct. 9, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 10 in downtown Charlevoix.

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