Story and photos by Daniella Zelikman
Nothing reminds me that autumn is upon us like Apple Fest. Of all of Ithaca’s festivals, it’s my favorite and since I missed last year’s, this one is extra special. It’s the last one I’ll be attending as an Ithaca College student now that I’m a senior. Determined to make the most of it, I met up with my friend, Sara, in the Commons.
It’s the perfect day for Apple Fest, warm and sunny, a welcome change from the last few unseasonably cold days. All around me is the sweet scent of apples, baked into pies and donuts and mac and cheese. Although it smells delicious, I’m more excited to sample the ciders and wines now that I’m 21.
Sara and I decide to save the best for last though and begin our tour of Apple Fest with the craft fair. In previous years, this has always been my favorite part. I love supporting local artists and seeing the unique things they have for sale. There’s everything from art prints to clothing to jewelry and it doesn’t disappoint.
We browse through quite a few jewelry stalls but end up most enamored with Ragtrader Vintage which specializes in steampunk costume jewelry. It fulfills all my childhood fantasies about being a cool Victorian lady and I buy an enamel and brass necklace.
From there, we move on to a stall run by Blue Toucan Studios, which specializes in making fairy doors. These whimsical magnets sound like exactly what they are: fantasy-themed doors sized exactly for little fairies to come through. The doors come in all shapes and sizes, with dozens of different sizes. They are modeled after Doctor Who’s TARDIS, Harry Potter’s Platform 9 ¾, Lord of the Rings’s Door of Gondor as well as the artists’ own imaginations. I was drawn to a round blue and purple with a crescent moon that now hangs proudly on my fridge.
With that, Sara and I were ready for the main attraction. Our first stop on our tasting tour of Apple Fest was the Thousand Island Winery. Based in Alexandria Bay, New York, they had a massive selection of wines to choose from ranging across the spectrum from dry to semi-sweet to sweet. Of all the wines I tried, I greatly enjoyed Thousand Island’s Riesling, at once sweet and strong, and I bought a bottle without hesitating.
From wine we moved on to cider and did a quick tasting at the Finger Lakes Cider House booth. It didn’t take long for me and Sara to realize that cider isn’t quite for us. We both have massive sweet tooths so the bitterness of cider doesn’t compare to the Riesling in my bag.
To close out the day, and get our last sugar fix, Sara and I finish with an Apple Fest classic: hot spiced cider. Though it might be a little warm for hot drinks, nothing puts me in a better mood for fall than a cup of cider enjoyed with a friend. It’s a perfect close to a long day and another successful Apple Fest.