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Apple Festival draws apple lovers and more

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FAIRBANKS – The popular Apple Festival, featuring local arts and crafts, an apple pie baking contest, raffles and more, was held Saturday for the first time since the Fairbanks School Meetinghouse project was completed.

The money raised through the various events goes to the Fairbanks School Neighborhood Association. That organization managed to raise the $457,000 needed to build the new community center. More than half the funds, $250,000 came through a USDA Rural Development grant. Another $100,000 matching grant was awarded and the rest, $107,000 was raised through local fund raising.

The festival features local artists running exhibits on crafts as diverse as wood-turning, sewing and bonsai tree pruning, games for children and, of course, lots of apples. Also out for the first time were donation jars marked “to benefit the communal kitchen.” That’s the new, and final aspect of the Fairbanks School Meetinghouse project; the installing of a large commercial-grade kitchen in the building’s basement. That shared-use kitchen would be available for local organizations in need of a place to cook.

Organizer Mary Frank, who was also active within the Fairbanks School Neighborhood Association, is serving on a new committee who are looking at that aspect of the new community center. One possible client, she says, would be the local food bank, which is housed in the meetinghouse’s basement. Other potential uses could be for local food producers who do not have the capital to outfit their own kitchen.

“We’re handling that separately,” Frank said of the kitchen aspect of the project, “we have really just started looking into what we want down there.”

Another, smaller kitchen has already been installed upstairs. Frank estimated that the shared-use kitchen would cost $50,000 to $75,000 to equip, based on the cost of appliances. The committee is reviewing options, and circulating a survey to collect peoples’ opinions. They will then begin discussing fund raising methods.

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