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I grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I was born in 1963 in Uniontown Pennsylvania. Both of my grandfathers worked in the coal mines. My father and several of my uncles either worked in the coal mines or steel mills at one time or another. I have met Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente on the field of Three Rivers Stadium as a Cub Scout. I watched Terry Bradshaw and the Steel Curtain win their first and last Super Bowl. I have been to more events at the Civic Arena then I could count on both feet and hands. At the time of this writing the Mellon Arena (as it is called now) is being prepared for demolition. I watched the downfall of the steel mills and coal mines from the inside and the outside. I played in the coke ovens, fished in the rivers and watched this area bounce back from terrible economic times. Time would fail me to continue in my reminiscing but let’s just say, like many of you I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly.
Several years ago I went to Florida after high school graduation. This was the first time I had ever been out of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The steel mills and coal mines at that time were at their all-time low. Jobs were very scarce especially for a high school graduate. I walked into the deli of a Winn-Dixie supermarket and said to the deli attendant there “Do yinz have any Isaly’s chipped ham?” The deli attendant looked confused and said “Yinz? Isaly’s? Chipped ham?” Well needless to say he was quite confused and so was I. This was the beginning of this book several years ago. Until then I really never knew how unique Southwestern Pennsylvania was.
I lived in Florida for a while and all it did was elevate my appreciation for my home. I discovered that it wasn’t just the food or the vocabulary that set this area apart but the people, creative people who enjoyed the simple life. The people of this area have been through tough times and have the scars to prove it. The scars have produced character and that coupled with being in the melting pot of Pennsylvania has created a unique kind of people. The way they live and appreciate the simple life is to be envied.
The beauty of the rolling hills and meadows, the smells captured in a warm breeze on a spring day and the taste of a homegrown tomato sandwiched in between two pieces of Grandma’s homemade bread can take you back to a moment in time that you would’ve otherwise forgotten. The sights, sounds and smells bid you come and they never fail to remind you that you grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
It’s a beautiful day in Pennsylvania!
When I was in high school I couldn’t wait to get out of this region of the world. I knew there had to be something else. I watched that picture box in the living room and there was just something different about those places. It seemed like there was never nothing to do. The winter was ugly and cold and everything seemed dirty. I wanted to spread my wings and get out of this dirt hole. So I took my last paycheck at my summer job and said goodbye to Mr. Hardy at Nemacolin Woodlands and headed south. I arrived at Hilton head Island South Carolina a day and half later. I was absolutely in love with what I saw. I saw the ocean for the first time. Everything was so clean and people seemed to have a good attitude.
I ran out of money staying at the Motel 6 and going to clubs. I had never been to a club before this and as far as I was concerned I would never live anywhere where there was not a club again. I made my way out to find work and had two job offers on the first day. Now I knew I wasn’t in Pennsylvania anymore, this was unheard of there. I took a job working for Domino’s pizza and it was awesome. I went into exclusive places, met celebrities and ate all the free pizza I could eat.
I didn’t have a place to live yet. I had to wait for my first paycheck. I found a catamaran on the beach that I stealthily approached and slept on every night for almost 2 weeks. Every night I would lay there listening to the waves, looking at the stars thinking about how much I missed Pennsylvania. Yeah right! I don’t think so! I had it made. I lived on an island. I drove around six hours a night meeting celebrities, eating free pizza, listening to music and partying while people gave me money. Then I went to clubs till 2 o’clock in the morning. Then slept on a catamaran on the beach listening to the waves. Got up the next day and started all over again.
So so what happened? What turn of events could cause you to be a guy writing about how much he loves Southwestern Pennsylvania?
Join Me at the 10th Annual Heinz History Center Holiday Book Fair
Saturday, Dec. 3
10:00 a.m. — 3:00 p.m.
Join the History Center for our 10th annual Holiday Book Fair, featuring authors from across the region.
Visitors will enjoy free hot chocolate, the chance to purchase signed copies of books, and mingle with dozens of local authors, including Dave Crawely; Rob Rogers; Andy Russell; Jim O’Brien; and many more of your favorites.
List of Scheduled Authors
(last updated 11–3-11)
Susan Helen Alder
Mary Anne Barnes
C.William Davis, III
Mary Lou Ellena
Elnora Agnes Fortson
William Lamarr Fortson
James G. Hollock
Frank Kordalski, Jr.
Nancy Mramor PhD
Featured subjects include:
Sports, Pittsburgh and Regional History, Personal Improvement, Children’s Stories, Military, Cooking, General Fiction and Non-Fiction, Civil War History, African American History, Glass, Poems, Travel, Oral History
The Holiday Book Fair is free and open to the public; regular admission prices apply for History Center exhibits.
This is more than a cookbook, it is also a stroll back into the childhood of those of us who grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The book is full of facts, writings and photos of Southwestern Pennsylvania with over 200 recipes collected over years of time. The beauty of the rolling hills and meadows, the smells captured in a warm breeze on a spring day and the taste of a homegrown tomato sandwiched in between two pieces of Grandma’s homemade bread can take you back to a moment in time that you would’ve otherwise forgotten. The sights, sounds and smells bid you come and they never fail to remind you that… You Grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“Douglas Robinson knows that Southwestern Pennsylvania is something that gets into your blood, and often it’s from the food.” Bob Batz Jr., Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Read Full Article
The “I Grew Up in Southwestern Pennsylvania Cookbook” features historical facts, more than 100 vintage photographs, Southwestern Pennsylvania slang word definitions and a compilation of more than 200 recipes that are signatures of the area and dear to a wide range of local residents.
“This is more than a cookbook but it is a stroll back into the childhood of those of us who grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania,” Robinson wrote on the back cover.
July 5, 2011 Meg Thompson, Herald Standard Read Full Article
I Love, Love, Love this book. In addition to a cookbook with some of the BEST recipes, it tells of Pittsburgh’s history, and use of words that are only known to true “Pittsburghers.” The first day I got the book, I read it twice from front to back!
Janet Latini Pittsburgh, PA Amazon.com
This is a very enjoyable book for the recipes and also for the historical facts interspersed throughout the book. I really liked it! Judith Hoffmann, Amazon.com
Do you want to have a Christmas full of joy, instead of a Christmas full of stress? Most people feel exactly the same way that you do, but instead they go through the Christmas season feeling stressed and tired.
You can have a joyful Christmas season. There are many different ways to make your Christmas season more fun and less stressful. The best thing that you can do is to try to simplify your Christmas. If you think about your favorite Christmases from your childhood, you probably remember more times of simple fun, rather than chaotic stress. You only have to plan and prepare to make this a Christmas that you can enjoy now.
Enjoying the simplicity and beauty of an old-fashioned Christmas can decrease your stress level and be very easy. You don’t have to go back to no electricity to make your Christmas more old-fashioned and simple. You only have to choose some parts of that time that will make your Christmas more enjoyable. You can help fill your home with Christmas spirit simply by using your three senses.
* Pleasing to the Eye — What do you think of when you think of when you consider an old-fashioned Christmas? If you are like most people, candy canes, popcorn strands, and homemade Ginger cookies on the Christmas tree come to mind. Making a popcorn strand is very simple and it can be a fun, quality family project that your kids will love and enjoy making. Using cookies as a decoration may not be very functional, but you could just use the cookie cutters on your tree or use them as a napkin ring.
* Pleasing to the Ear — “Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening?” Adding sleigh bells to your home can help create a pleasant Christmas sound to the ears. If you don’t have a reindeer out in the yard then hang them on your doorknob. This is a great way to welcome your holiday guests.
* Hearing the squeals of laughter occurs quite frequently during the Christmas season. From opening presents to decorating your home, the holidays are a source of great fun and laughter for every member of the family. You may want to consider using toys for decorating your home.
* Pleasing to the Nose — Some of the favorite scents of the holidays include spices, baked goods, evergreen, and bayberry. You can find Christmas decorations that fit both your eyes and nose. For example, fir branches with a red bow would look beautiful above a doorway. Scented candles will look great in your windows. Cooking cookies also helps to add a delicious smell to your entire home.
Having an old-fashioned Christmas does not mean that you have to sacrifice your worldly goods. It simply means that you want to have a more simple, enjoyable Christmas, without many of the stresses. Isn’t that what you desire?
Andrew Caxton is the author and editor of many resources published at http://www.home-decorating-reviews.com . He also provides tips and advice about ornaments as well as on gifts for holidays and special moments like Christmas gifts. Find more ideas at his website.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Andrew_Caxton
This wonderful article was first published in Saveur issue #22.
After a lifetime of wandering the world, it is remarkably restorative to return to one’s roots and to the food of one’s childhood, produced in loam enriched by generations of husbandry by frugal, industrious Amish and Mennonite farmers. My family is as German-American as sauerkraut, but my parents and my grandparents, members of the generations that fought against the Germans in both world wars, didn’t talk about their background. It was not that the older generations denied their origins, exactly; they simply avoided the subject if possible. But their food gave them away—as food always does. Immigrants quickly shed their national costumes, their language, even their Old World names (Apple used to be Apfel), but it takes a lot longer for them to abandon their favorite things to eat.
So we consumed a lot of German-American dishes, especially on holidays. Recipes were handed down, uncorrupted, from mother to daughter (and sometimes son) as the decades slipped by—and my mother always managed to find things like slow-cooked apple butter and the smoky, spicy luncheon meat called Lebanon bologna at local farms or shops. We called these things Pennsylvania Dutch. Our forebears had been among the German and Swiss families that settled in southeastern Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, then moved on to southwestern Pennsylvania and to North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and beyond. Sloppily pronounced, “Pennsylvania Deutsch” (meaning “Pennsylvania German”) became “Pennsylvania Dutch”.
William Woys Weaver, the ranking authority on the subject, writes in his book Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking (Abbeville Press, 1993) that Pennsylvania Dutch food has Bodegeschmack—which is what the French call goût de terroir, the taste of the land. It is robust, boldly flavored, down-to-earth cooking. It is also misrepresented and misunderstood. The closest most Americans have come to tasting it is at the roadside industrial feederies in the Amish country around Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where sweet, overstarchy food is served in portions that would choke a sumo wrestler. The real thing is closer to Alsatian cuisine than anything else (and serious eaters know how liberally the Guide Michelin strews stars on the restaurants in and around that French region on the German border). Unfortunately—though they are Feinschmeckers (gourmets) of the first order—the Pennsylvania Dutch have no tradition of first-class restaurants or professional chefs. Theirs remains almost wholly a household cuisine.
The celebration of the Thanksgiving feast begins, for us, with the assembling of raw materials. The year’s last sorrel leaves from our garden went into the soup, and our last few tarragon sprigs went into the stuffing. We used a few other products we had grown ourselves, including the native but uncommon smokehouse apples for one of the pies. Most of the rest of the ingredients came from elsewhere in Pennsylvania—and tracking them down was one of the delights of the enterprise. Overorganized as ever, we started well in advance, laying in a supply of John Cope’s dried corn, which is such an indispensable part of my family’s holiday rhythms that my mother faithfully sent it to me each Thanksgiving during the three years I spent in Vietnam. We shopped around for the relishes that adorn the Pennsylvania Dutch table, ending up with five: bread-and-butter pickles, pickled beets, chowchow, watermelon pickles, and celery ribs—some from Dietrich’s Meats and Country Store (an extraordinary farm market in Krumsville), others from Dan Stoltzfus (at the venerable Lancaster Central Market), a gent with a gray spade beard who patiently explained which examples of his art had taken blue ribbons at the most recent Southern Lancaster County Fair in Quarryville.
A couple of days before Thanksgiving, we drove up to the heart of Amish country—a soul-satisfying, late-autumn expedition along rural Pennsylvania back roads. Silos punctuated the landscape like exclamation points. We passed plows pulled by teams of four horses through fields of corn stubble turned golden by the slanting rays of the afternoon sun. We admired a local dairy farm, where Jersey and Holstein cattle grazed against the hazy backdrop of Blue Mountain. Our destination, however, was Eberly Poultry, a third-generation operation that processes chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, partridge, quail, and more. All the birds are raised in small flocks by Amish and Mennonite farmers living within a 50-mile radius of Bob Eberly’s plant, and all are raised “as nature intended,” he told me, “with no pesticides, no hormones, no chemical fertilizers, strictly free-range.” Old and new meet on Eberly’s doorstep near the hamlet of Schoeneck (the name means “beautiful corner” in German); horses, their breath visible in the cold air, prance past the plant along Mt. Airy Road, drawing the boxy black carriages used by the Amish, while semis hurtle along the Pennsylvania Turnpike a mile away.
Eberly’s free-range turkeys had won a taste test conducted by the New York Times a couple of days before we got there. The phone was ringing off the hook, and Eberly was fresh out of gobblers. Fortunately, we had decided beforehand that the centerpiece of our meal would be a goose—a fowl more favored in German (and, for that matter, Alsatian) cooking than turkey—and Eberly picked out a perfect, 12-pound embden, freshly slaughtered and (as time would tell) dark and firm of flesh, full-flavored, almost gamy.
The late November weather last year was miserable—cold, gray, with rain trailing off into mist—but that didn’t deter our six guests, most of whom traveled fair distances to join us. Catherine, our daughter, who came in from New York, had the flu—but that only prompted learned discussion of the relative merits of champagne and whiskey as cures. The mood was spirited inside our stone farmhouse (an Arts and Crafts–era structure, built in 1914 from plans by Gustave Stickley). Our ebullient Washington neighbor Jurek Martin puffed away at some notably nasty cheroots, oblivious to my demands that he desist, while our friend Robin Hill’s boxer, Schepsi, ambled elegantly about with a bandanna knotted around his neck. We all spun stories about absent friends and Thanksgivings past, warmed by a big fire of Georgia fatwood kindling and applewood logs that burned fiercely on the fieldstone hearth. Catherine chattered gamely away between sniffles.
My wife grew up in Richmond, Virginia, where a festive gathering without Smithfield ham in some guise—usually with biscuits—was unthinkable. A close Pennsylvania Dutch equivalent, we had decided, were the ubiquitous local little potato rolls, made from potato flour, so we served thinly sliced Smithfield ham on those, and Betsey plied the crowd with champagne and ham, ham and champagne.
Thanks to the quality of Bob Eberly’s fowl and a clever steam-roast method of cooking—which drains the excess fat from the bird while producing a properly crisp skin—devised by Julia Child, the goose was the best I have ever eaten. Our guests, for whom goose probably seemed less ethnically imperative, exclaimed most about other things—notably the sorrel and watercress soup, modified a bit from a recipe in Alice Waters’s book, Chez Panisse Vegetables (HarperCollins, 1996), to cope with the shortfall in my late-season sorrel crop. The Pennsylvania Dutch have eaten sorrel since the 18th century—though seldom, I would bet, in a preparation as refined as this. A William Woys Weaver recipe for sauerkraut with ginger, which sounds as unpromising as chicken with licorice, won a lot of votes, as did my mom’s sweet and unctuous creamed corn. The stuffing (or dressing, as my family called it, for reasons unknown), made with dried morels, chanterelles, hen of the woods, and beech mushrooms, after a recipe from Pennsylvania-born mushroom specialist Jack Czarnecki, another friend, was also a hit.
And since this was Thanksgiving, the one day of the year when all but card-carrying members of the gastronomic gestapo encourage—or at least forgive—wretched excess, there was even more: red cabbage made in the sweet-and-sour style of Egon Ronay, the Hungarian-born English restaurant critic who first urged me to write about food two decades ago; herbed spätzle, a modern twist on the traditional German (and German-American) drop dumpling; apple pie (for which I peeled and cored the smokehouse apples on a funky old apple lathe); and Pennsylvania Dutch raisin pie—a delicacy sometimes known as funeral pie because it was often taken to grieving families. We served it all on Adams Rose platters and dishes, 19th-century pieces that were made in England to the flowery taste of the Pennsylvania Dutch. For a final local flourish, we served miniature Hershey’s chocolate bars with the coffee; Milton Hershey, after all, was an enterprising Pennsylvania Dutchman of Swiss descent—who turned a sweet tooth into a Fortune 500 company.
It all went swimmingly, peerlessly overseen by Betsey in a 1950s rummage-sale apron. We had more food than wine left over, but not much of either. It was still raining the next morning, and we decided to postpone a planned tour of the Gettysburg battlefield and sleep in. The hardy Pennsylvania Dutch of yore would have thought us wimps, I knew, but after that dinner, a slothful morning seemed the better part of valor.
This article was first published in Saveur issue #22.
You Just Might Be a Yinzer If…
1. I ask you to hand me one of those “Gum-Bands” an’ you actually know what I’m talking about.
2. You walk carefully when it is “slippy” outside.
3. You often go down to the “crick.“
4. You’ve told your children to “red up” their rooms.
5. You can remember telling your little brother/sister to stop being so “
6. You’ve gotten hurt by falling into a “jaggerbush”.
7. Your mother or grandmother has been seen wearing a “babushka” on her
8. You’ve “worshed” the clothes.
9. You didn’t have a spring break in high school.
10. You know you can’t drive too fast on the back roads, because of the deer.
Our children look forward to helping me bake these cute cat cookies each year. They’ve become experts at making the faces with candy corn and red-hots.
1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened 2 cups sugar 2 eggs 3 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup baking cocoa 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 24 wooden craft or Popsicle sticks 48 candy corn candies 24 red-hot candiesIn a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Roll dough into 1–1/2-in. balls. Place 3 in. apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Insert a wooden stick into each cookie. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Pinch top of cookie to form ears. For whiskers, press a fork twice into each cookie. Bake at 350Â° for 10–12 minutes or until cookies are set. Remove from the oven; immediately press on candy corn for eyes and red-hots for noses. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 dozen.
24 oz Frozen strawberries — thawed 6 oz Lemonade, frozen concentrate 1 qt Ginger ale 1 c Raisins 1 c Blueberries — fresh or frozenPlace the strawberries in a bowl and mash with a fork. In a large pitcher, mix the strawberry mash, lemonade and ginger ale. Place handfuls of raisins and blueberries (bugs) into tall glasses. Pour the liquid over the bugs, then sit back and watch the bugs and scum rise to the top of each glass. To quench a creepy crowd’s thirst, double or tripple this recipe and serve in a punch bowl. Drape some gummy worms over the rim of your bowl for a particularly swampy-looking effect!
28th Houston Pumpkin Festival is sponsored by the Houston Fire Department. Over 175 Unique Craft & Food Booths including Pizza, Funnel Cakes, Hot Sausage, Gyros, Veggies, Kettle Corn, & Much More!!! Children’s area with Pony & Carriage Rides, Rock Wall, Bouncers, Pumpkin Decorating, Petting Zoo, Train Ride & Much More!!! Live Entertainment daily, Free Shuttle Bus & Free Admission to the Festival. No Pets or Bicycles permitted on festival grounds.
Pumpkin Festival hours are 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Directions: Houston is located 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, Take I-79 to the Houston Exit. Make a left & go 1/2 mile to the Houston Park where there is parking available with free shuttle bus. For more information, please call 724–745-1254.
106 Main Street (Route 50)
Hickory, Pa. 15340
The Mt. Pleasant Township Volunteer Fire Company is located approximatley 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh in Washington County. Our firefighters travel 88 miles of road to serve 3,422 residents and a number of businesses.
We will be there signing and selling our
“I Grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania Cookbook!“
Special Priced at $14 or 2 for $25.
Shuttle Service (from off site parking lots)
Watch Crafters Demonstrate Their Skills
Quilting and Spinning
Plus More .….
Apple Bobbing Contest
Apple Pie Eating Contest
Hay Rides (Parents ride also)
Fire Safety House
Plus More .….
Bring Your Appetite:
We have pancake breakfast each morning from 7am-1pm in the dining room of the firehall. If its apples you like, it’s apples we have! From candied to crisp, we have goodies made with apples. Try one of our mouth watering apple dumplings or our caramel apples. Maybe pie with ice cream is more to your liking. We even have homemade apple butter. Don’t forget to grab a few pies to go, boxed and and ready for your next gathering or take one home to someone who could not make this great event.
Don’t forget the other home cooked foods we offer at the Hickory Apple Festival. We offer fresh stone oven baked bread that goes great with our home made slow cooked bean soup. We have chicken roasted on an open fire that you can make a dinner out of. How about a sandwich? We have roast beef, hot sausage, kielbasa, roast pork, and the tried and true hot dogs and hamburgers. Be sure to take home some fresh apples and some freshly made corn meal.
If you are thirsty, we have apple cider, served either warm or chilled. You just can’t go away hungry from our festival.
Hickory is about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh and 11 miles north of Washington, PA. Take I-79 to the Bridgeville Exit (Exit 54) and go left on Route 50W for about 12 miles. Or take 70, 18N, and 50E. Most fire company activities take place at the fire hall at 106 Main Street (Route 50).
Saturday October 1, 2011
10:00 — 11:00 AM
Fort Cherry High School Band
11:00 — 1:00 PM
Banjo All Stars– Small Stage
1:00 — 2:15 PM
Ruff Creek — Large Stage
2:15 — 3:15 PM
Mon Valley Cloggers - Small Stage
3:15– 4:00 PM
Apple Bobbing & Pie Eating Contests — Small Stage
4:00 — 5:15 PM
Ruff Creek — Large Stage
Sunday October 2, 2011
8:30 — 9:30 AM
Hickory UP Church Services — Large Stage
10:30 — 1:00 PM
Blue Grass Band — Small Stage
1:15 — 2:30 PM
Bill Burkette’s Vogues — Large Stage
2:30 — 3:30 PM
Apple Bobbing & Pie Eating Contests — Small Stage
:45 — 5:00 PM
Bill Burkette’s Vogues — Large Stage
Whether it’s by the slice or a whole pie, festivalgoers can top those or other apple desserts with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
An apple may or may not have tempted Adam and Eve, but crowds from miles around give into temptation and dig into a host of homemade treats at the Hickory festival on the first weekend of October.
This year, October’s arrival coincides with the 28th annual Hickory Apple Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 2.
Gary Farner won’t reveal the recipe for the Hickory Apple Festival’s signature treats, but he did note that 3 1/2 tons of Jonagold apples went into the pies and apple crisp last year.
“For candy apples and caramel apples, we use Empires,” said Farner, festival chairman and president of the Mt. Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department, which puts on the festival as a major fundraiser.
For those who prefer their apples raw, fruits in half-peck and peck bags are Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Empire and Jonagold.
“They are Pennsylvania apples,” Farner said.
Last year, they sold 800 gallon jugs of cider, 650 half-gallon jugs and 1,400 pints of cold cider.
Volunteers began peeling, coring, slicing, spicing, rolling pastry and baking pies before mid-September.
Gary Farner revealed the type of apple used, but his wife, Kathy Farner said of the pies, “It is a secret recipe that has been finely tuned over the years, as is the recipe for the apple crisp and apple butter.”
In the kitchen, Rita Bongiorni is in charge of pie production.
The volume of sales dictates that pies be baked in advance, so the early batches are frozen. Both frozen and fresh pies are sold whole for $9 during the festival.
“We cannot make 2,500 pies the day before the festival,” Kathy Farner said. “The only way to keep them fresh is to freeze them.”
A group of 50 prepares the fruit and dough, toiling assembly-line style so that 96 pies can be baked simultaneously in four ovens.
That’s not the only fun the Hickory festival has with apples. There are contests for festivalgoers, but speed, not volume, is the point of the apple festival’s bobbing and pie-eating contests.
The first one to grab a “toothsome” apple in a tub of water wins in each age group, as does the first person to devour a lunchbox-sized pie. The organizers also award second-place and participant ribbons.
Children tend to eat up these contests, although, Kathy Farner said, “We would love to have some adult participants.”
Not just the pies, but most of the food sold at the festival is made at the Mt. Pleasant Township Fire Hall in Hickory.
It’s hard to resist the aroma of wood-fired food, so a hearty appetite is a handy thing to bring to the apple festival.
Man (or woman, or child) does not live by apples alone, so to augment the many fall fruit offerings, the menu includes half chickens roasted over an open fire; grilled beef and pork; kettle-cooked bean soup; pierogies; fresh-cut French fries; kettle corn; funnel cake; kielbasa sandwiches; hot dogs and hamburgers; and freshly squeezed lemonade.
Although apple pies, dumplings, crisps and cakes rule the day, they’re not the only baked goods.
Built especially for a past festival was a brick oven, and bakers are busy on festival days making yeasty loaves that hungry festivalgoers can purchase hot.
Attendance varies from year to year, but the number of visitors has been estimated at between 30,000 and 50,000 people in the Mt. Pleasant Township village. To get an idea of the magnitude of the festival, the township has 3,515 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
“The weather certainly plays a big part since the majority of our activities are outdoors,” Kathy Farner said.
Last year, rain marred the second day of the two-day celebration of all things apple, so those hankering for homemade pie could purchase unsold pies at the fire department the week afterward.
Twenty-eight may not be a milestone, but Kathy Farner said, “It’s a big year. It’s a long time, and we’re excited that its continued into its 28th year.”