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Opinion

Applefest offers food, music and autumn colors

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October 12, 2016

It is common knowledge that Americans have the least, and take the least amount of, vacation days than almost any other country in the world. I firmly believe that there is always time for a quick getaway to recharge, change up your everyday environment and just plain enjoy yourself!

I took such a vacation last weekend when I left all my homework behind to go up to my cabin to celebrate that fall is finally here by eating as many foods with apple in them as I could find. Applefest is an annual festival held in Bayfield, Wisconsin during the first weekend in October, which means that it provides the perfect opportunity to take in the fall colors of Northern Wisconsin. Fall to me can never really begin until I am able to see all of the reds and golds of the fall leaves that go whipping past the truck windows as we wind our way up to our cabin.

Applefest offers a unique view of northern living to tourists, who make the population swell from 530 permanent residents to over 50,000 visitors who come to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the tiny town that sits right on the edge of Lake Superior. During Bayfield’s annual fall festival, visitors are able to take in some music by the extremely talented members of the Blue Canvas Orchestra, watch contestants compete in an apple peeling competition (the longest, continuous peel wins) and shop at various booths while munching on apple dumplings, caramel apples or deep fried apple slices.

The events of Applefest are not just contained to what can be seen downtown. The town of Bayfield also boasts “15 local orchards,” according to Bayfield.org, where visitors can pick their own apples and pumpkins and taste homemade cider. While there are many orchards to choose from, I would personally recommend checking out Erickson’s Orchard where the Erickson family has been selling apples in Bayfield since 1954 and where you might even meet Jim Erickson, who is credited with helping to the create the very first Applefest. Not only is there an incredible history surrounding Erickson’s Orchard, but what keeps bringing my family back to the farm is their apple donuts that are so worth the wait. Do not be surprised to find yourself in a line that stretches through the store and out the door.

After the crowds pushing strollers and towing dogs on leashes are gone for the day, there is still plenty of Applefest left to enjoy. Stick around late on Saturday night to travel from pub to pub where you will be entertained by the Pipes and Drums of Thunder Bay, a group of bagpipers and drummers who come dressed in full Scottish attire to play during the Applefest parade. They also migrate to each bar in town on Saturday night to play a few songs and test the limits of your eardrums.

I always highly recommend using up your vacation days, and this time next year I urge you to have a weekend away to discover a new city in Wisconsin, eat your weight in caramel apples and enjoy the fantastic fall weather that Wisconsin has to offer. Taking a trip to enjoy Applefest should be a trip that no one should feel guilty about taking time out of their regular schedules for.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.