Hailed as the “Best Festival in Wisconsin” by Wisconsin Trails Magazine and one of the “10 Best Fall Harvest Festivals in the Nation” by USA TODAY, the annual Apple Festival is a celebration of the autumn harvest in Bayfield I was not going to miss. But what exactly makes it so great? Is it the charming small town atmosphere? The famous Pipes and Drums of Thunder Bay? The countless booths of fresh apple pies, tarts, caramel apples, ciders and other fall treats? Well … YES!
I would suggest to anyone planning on attending the festival next year to arrive early on Saturday morning to enjoy Bayfield’s Pipe and Drums wakeup concert. I was thrilled to have the chance to see them play. Pipes and Drums is one of the oldest traditional pipe bands in Canada and was established in 1912. Since then they’ve won numerous marching awards and been a favorite addition to the Apple Festival for several years. This was a highlight of my day at the Apple Festival.
Saturday events also featured an apple peeling contest, orchard tours, more food, classic cars, bands and the Apple Queen Coronation celebration. I wouldn’t trust myself to peel an apple like the contestants did. They seemed unfazed by onlookers and cold hands as they quickly trimmed the apple skins into thin spiraled scrolls. Fun fact: the longest peel recorded in this contest was 387 inches!!
There were also over 60 food, art and craft booths lining Rittenhouse Avenue all strategically placed to encourage visitors to shop in the many unique Bayfield shops. And shop people did!
Crowds aren’t my thing, so I preferred to venture off to a few orchards. I started at Hauser’s Superior View Farm to watch apple butter being made over an open wood fire and purchased a jar of apple butter to take home. There were also famous apple dumplings, apple pies, tortes, caramel apples and fudge available. The smells were indescribable! As if that weren’t enough to entertain the children, they could enjoy pony rides, face painting, getting lost in a straw bale maze, paint a pumpkin or spend time in a bounce house.
Wherever you are, celebrate the joy of fall and make the most of what the harvest season has to offer.