September 25, 2013

Monmouth’s AppleFest to celebrate 25th anniversary with pies, wagon rides

By John Hale Correspondent

MONMOUTH — On Saturday, downtown Monmouth will be turned over to the Monmouth Museum to celebrate the museum’s 25th AppleFest. Apple pie eating, horse-drawn wagon rides and visits to the museum’s antique buildings will highlight the event.

click image to enlarge

Rannon Rines, 3, of Greene, turns the handle on a cider press during AppleFest events last year at The Monmouth Museum. The events included fresh apples and apple pie for sale and a 5K road race earlier in the morning.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

“I was there at the beginning in 1989,” said Audrey Walker, the AppleFest chairwoman. “It started as an enhanced bake sale with apple pies and children’s activities. We added something every year. It’s really become quite an event.”

Walker said she and her committee of about a dozen museum members have called on 40 people, mostly women plus a few men, to bake apple pies for sale this year. She predicts that more than 100 pies will be sold at AppleFest. Whole pies sell for $13.50 each, while pie slices, topped with either ice cream or cheese, will go for $3 each.

“They’re home-baked pies. Over the years, we’ve lost a lot of our good pie bakers,” Walker said. “I don’t know if young people bake pies as much. We’ll see. We’ll adapt.”

Walker said “hundreds and hundreds” of people turn out for AppleFest, which is always held on the last Saturday in September. “It’s free admission,” she said. “It depends on the weather. We do it rain or shine. The weather is critical.”

The festival is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some events will start earlier, such as the pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. at Monmouth United Church and the 5-kilometer road race that will start at 8 a.m. at Cumston Hall, sponsored by Friends of Cumston Hall.

Walker said AppleFest has grown to be not only a fundraiser for the museum but a fundraiser for other groups, such as the Monmouth Boy Scouts, who operate a lunch counter selling hamburgers and hot dogs.

“They’re closing a section of Main Street, from the post office to the general store, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., so that the Monmouth Masonic Lodge can hold a craft fair,” Walker said. “There is a slight detour around the block. That’s exciting. It’s going to add a new dimension.”

Walker said there will “a lot of fun events” that will make AppleFest family-friendly. “There should be a little something for everyone,” she said.

There will be barrel car rides for children and cider pressing and making of apple sauce. Children will get red balloons courtesy of Monmouth Federal Credit Union. Most events are free, but there will be a small fee for adults who go on wagon rides.

“This is our main fundraiser of the year,” Walker said. “We use the money raised to pay insurance on our buildings.” The museum has eight antiquated buildings.

“It is also our closing event of the year, until Memorial Day next year,” she said.

The museum’s country store will sell five locally written books about Monmouth.

A recent newsletter of the Monmouth Museum, edited by Nancy Ludewig and Jackie Wing, calls the Monmouth Museum “a museum of agricultural town life in Maine, 1800-1950.”

The newsletter pays tribute to Monmouth’s telephone operators who made telephone connections before the advent of dial telephones in late 1959. They worked for the Lewiston, Greene and Monmouth Telephone Co.

A news article from the Lewiston Sun of April 15 and 16, 1953, states that a late-season snowstorm knocked out 160 utility poles in central Maine and 725 poles in the greater Augusta area, disrupting phone and electrical service for days.

The newsletter also includes the story of the apple and its place in history. It mentions Chick Orchards of Monmouth, which at its peak had 23 orchards with 26,000 apple trees. Chick Orchards employed 175 people in apple-picking season; of that number, 15 employees worked year-round.

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