Apples are ripe for celebrating

Luke Brandt helps Luke Raimond, 2, and his grandmother, Angie Huwer, from Illinois, collect apples at the 2011 Home Grown Apple Days. The fifth annual festival will take place Sunday in Buckley Park. Enlarge photo

Durango Herald file photo

Luke Brandt helps Luke Raimond, 2, and his grandmother, Angie Huwer, from Illinois, collect apples at the 2011 Home Grown Apple Days. The fifth annual festival will take place Sunday in Buckley Park.

Editors note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Offices Master Gardener Program, appears every other week during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.

By Darrin Parmenter

The bears continue to fight us for our apples. But we vowed to harvest 4,000 pounds and, by golly, 4,000 we will harvest. Even if it takes us twice as long.

The fifth annual Home Grown Apple Days Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Buckley Park. And while 2012 has been a challenging year for our harvest, we still plan on holding a big ol party to celebrate this wonderful fruit.

Why the challenge? The majority of apples on trees scattered throughout La Plata County ripened about two to three weeks earlier than normal. Typically (and I use that word loosely), apples are ready ripened and sweetened around the first week of October. But with the warm winter, warm spring and dry and hot summer, the trees took to the ripening process much sooner. So come Apple Days time, lots of fruit was already harvested or fell to the ground.

Or was eaten by bears.

For weeks, bears have been gorging on apples, leaving deposits and broken trees as reminder of their force (and appetite).

But the show will go on, so expect another amazing Apple Days Festival, which in my estimation, is the best festival all year.

What to expect:

Freshly pressed juice available for donation.

Pie-eating contest.

Kids fun zone, including arts and crafts, face painting, apple bobbing and the Discovery Museum.

Local food from Zia Taqueria, Fired Up Pizza, apple pies, caramel apples, hot dogs and brats, and more.

Live from Wild Mountain, A-Bun Dance, Ballet Folklorico and Matt Moon.

Beekeeping booth.

Apple tasting and sales. We will have many different varieties to choose from and will be selling apples by the peck and 25-pound boxes.

Educational booths.

So come down with the kids, bring a blanket, take a turn on the apple presses, buy some local apples and soak in the last few rays of sun in this glorious fall.