Oct 4th festival celebrates western Maine apples

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RANGELEY – Bethel Belle, Litchfield Pippin, Winn’s Russet, the Bailey Golden, the Aunt Judith – these were some of the early apples in Maine, part of the 300 or so apple varieties that prospered during the early years of the United States. Come and experience part of western Maine’s apple history when the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum holds its 15th annual Apple Festival on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Main Street.

Carol Haley, Becky and Richard Hill, Lynnie Raymond, and Rodney Richard will make the beef stew for the luncheon that begins at 11 a.m. Becky Hill, Mary Ellen Simon, Steve Richard, and other volunteers will also serve up hot dogs, sandwiches, apple desserts, and more.

Inside the Church, all kinds of homemade foods made with apples and more will be for sale, including pies, breads, muffins, and cookies, and jellies. Crafts from throughout the region as well as a White Elephant table with baby clothes and more will fill the church Undercroft. Margaret Yezil of Oquossoc will offer her many creations, such as place mats, toy moose, and bright Christmas items. From Salem, Daria Babbitt, Colleen Coffren, and April Grant will bring their knit goods and textile arts. And from Susan and William Lewis of Rangeley and Sue Young of New Portland will come creations in wood. Other crafters have promised apple cookie cutters, pot holders, wood crafts, and much more.

John Richard will oversee the sale of the Logging Museum’s publications Logging in the Maine Woods: The Paintings of Alden Grant and Working the Woods, as well as T-shirts, sweatshirts, and the Fall 2008 raffle tickets. The Fall raffle features a white Yamaha Phazer GT snowmobile, Model 2007, with a 500 cc fuel-injected engine. The snowmobile, donated by L.L. Cote Sports Center of Errol, NH, the Museum’s sponsor, can be viewed on the front lawn of Museum president Rodney Richard, Sr., Main Street, Rangeley.

Outside the church, Museum President Rodney Richard, Sr. and Rodney Richard, Jr., of Pownal, will rev up their chain saws and bring a host of Maine animals out of blocks of white pine. Logging Museum Board members Richard Hill and Wayne Lessard will demonstrate apple pressing and cider making on the apple press. Terry Trask of Trask Orchard, Jay, will sell cider, apples, and more so festival visitors can press apples into cider at the festival. People may also bring their own apples to be pressed.

Apples loom large in the history of western Maine. The apple press, owned by Bill and Margaret Ellis, points to Rangeley’s earlier years. From the family’s apples, Bill’s mother, Katharine, made dried apples, apple rings, apple leather, apple sauce, baked apples, and cider. And the family would walk up to their orchard where Bill’s great-grandfather Jerry lived for the Jerry Ellis Apple Picking Day.

“Just whoever was around in the immediate family would go up there and pick apples,” Bill said, “and fill our backpacks. There must be 20 different kinds of apples up there.”

And Dick Witham of Phillips remembers the apples of his boyhood.

“We had an old, square, wooden cart on wheels, and a wooden bucket,” Dick said of himself and a childhood friend. “And there was a nice, beautiful apple tree out back of the church. Nice apples. So we went and filled that cart up with apples, and we went around town selling apples. Twenty-five cents a bucket. And would you believe we made three or four dollars?” he said laughing. “We couldn’t believe it.”
Admission to the Oct. 4 Apple Festival is free. For more information, call the Richards at 864-5595. From October to June, the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum is open by appointment only; call 864-5595. Visit the Museum website at http://mason.gmu.edu/~myocom and click on “Maine Folklore Projects.”

By Peggy Yocom, Folklorist, Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum

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