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Cool spring stalls blossoms, but fundraising in full bloom at Apple Blossom Festival

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Dished up one slice at a time, fundraising was easy as apple pie at the St. John’s Anglican Church Apple Blossom Festival, Saturday.

The event, held at The County Cider Company in Waupoos, coincides with season opening day at the cidery. County Cider has more than 40 acres of apple orchards and grows 16 varieties of late harvest apples for its ciders.

Overlooking picturesque Prince Edward Bay with impressive panoramic views, the festival is a celebration of spring and the apple orchards of North Marysburgh. While a cool and slow start to spring meant the apple blossoms were in short supply, lambs Gal and Val and goat mom Jenny and daughter Ruth, joined all under sunny skies, to experience a taste of spring.

St. John’s Anglican Church volunteers, Peggy deWitt and Louise Bazett-Jones, serve up apple pie.

This year, St. John’s decided to give the annual event’s proceeds from the sale of apple pies to the Picton branch library’s ‘Time to Renew’ expansion fundraising campaign. Organizers say the decision came before the announcement of provincial government cuts.

“Originally, the apple orchard workers gathered and celebrated the apple blossoms, because it meant they were going to have a good variety of apples. That’s an old tradition here and St. John’s has always been in the middle of it and they picked up on it,” said Louise Bazett-Jones, a St. John’s Anglican Church volunteer.

Bazett-Jones said St. John’s has been doing the festival for about 30 years, and County Cider gives them space and tents to hold the festival.

“Every year in honour of the apple blossoms, we make a whole bunch of pies and we decide on a good cause every year to give all the monies to. Every year we think who is on our radar and who needs it and we do it and it’s fun. One year it was County literary, one year it was Reaching for Rainbows, but this year it is for the library renovation funds,” she said.

The fresh-baked apple pies were available by the slice, and came with large cubes of delicious local cheeses. Whole apple pies –all baked by the community – could also be purchased.

St. John’s Anglican Church sits at the bottom of the hill to the nearby apple blossom festival venue County Cider.

About 20 specialty pies, made by local chefs and cooks were also available for a generous donation and were snapped up quickly. The specialty pies included a Moroccan spiced apple pie with cardamom glaze made by The Marans, a Queen Elizabeth date cake with praline topping made by Gilbert and Lighthall, a cherry pie by the County Farm Centre, and a French apple pie baked by the County Drug Store.

“We celebrate local food and local growers and local chefs and develop community, and I have to say people were so happy to make pies,” said Bazett-Jones. All of the pies are homemade, not factory produced, and Grills Orchards in Belleville donated 50 per cent of the apples which are Ida reds.

“A whole bunch of people from St. John’s and St. Philip’s [in Milford], and all of our friends from all over the place, came and did a apple pie bee last week,” said Bazett-Jones.

It really was an experience of generosity from the whole community, and it’s a real community grassroots celebration. Fundraising amounts yet to be tallied.

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