Pressing for more than a century, it is difficult to maintain a hydraulic press that still produces the precious apple cider.
Add more than a year of pandemic-related closures, including the cancellation of last year’s Apple’n Arts Festival in Delmont, and the problems get worse.
“The press had not been used for two years, and we also found that it had not been properly winterized,” said Harvey Bush, a member of the Fort Allen Antique Farm Equipment Association, whose members typically squeeze more than $ 20,000 worth of apples into thousands of gallons of cider each year.
The apple press required major repairs. Still, he was back in great shape this week ahead of the Apple’n Arts Festival, which is due to start on Saturday at the Shields Farm property.
On Wednesday, a large crew was in constant motion loading apples into the press hopper, stacking canvas “patties” for pressing into the cider and hauling wheelbarrows of waste.
“We have a lot of new, younger men helping us,” Bush’s wife Pat said with a mischievous smile, “They don’t know what they’re getting into.”
Such activity on the farm was almost unthinkable until July, when Delmont City Council gave organizers the official green light to hold the annual festival.
“We have a lot more suppliers than I expected,” said Brandy Walters, member of the organizing committee. “I think at last count… we had 88 arts and crafts vendors.”
The festival will feature a food court and some features from the late brought back sponsors.
“We were able to bring back the petting zoo and the kid’s train rides,” said Walters, “and we have a full lineup of groups that will be performing as well.”
The Apple’n Arts Festival will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Shields Farm. On-site parking is available at Contact Place in Delmont, off East Pittsburgh Street. Parking and shuttle buses are also available from Steel City Raceway, 276 Story Road in Salem.
For more information, see DelmontApplenArts.com.