North Spokane’s Green Bluff swelled Sunday with apple lovers, pumpkin pickers and families out enjoying the sunny, slightly crisp fall weather during a traditional trip to the Apple Festival.
With this year’s bountiful harvest and apple crop, the 36 farms that participate in the monthlong event have plenty to celebrate and sell.
“We had a great crop this year,” said Todd Beck, who helps run the Harvest House & Orchard family business. “The apples are heavy on the tree.”
Beck’s farm is the biggest draw on Green Bluff. Aside from apples – grown on 22 of the farm’s 37 acres, there are pony rides, hay rides, hay mazes, corn mazes, bouncy castles and a Jumping Pillow about the size of a small basketball court, Pumpkin Land, live music, crafts, a gift shop, various food vendors and the legendary pumpkin doughnuts.
Kayla and Andrew Bonnell had heard about the Apple Festival in their hometown in Alberta and decided to make the trip to Spokane.
“This is great. It’s fun and interesting,” Kayla Bonnell said. “We didn’t really expect this many people or this much to be going on.”
The Bonnells were glad they decided to make the trip to Green Bluff, but they weren’t so sure they’d be able to take apples back with them to Canada.
So “we’re eating what we can while we’re here,” Kayla Bonnell said. “We’ve had the pumpkin doughnuts, apple cider and a caramel apple … the apple pie is next.”
Anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 people come through the Harvest House store each day of the weekend during the festival, or more than 50,000 people during October.
“This is my 10th year,” said Sarah Kreider, 33, of Spokane. “This is my fourth baby I’ve brought here. We’ve taken a picture every year by the same pumpkin (a fake pumpkin with a measuring stick). It’s grown; it’s gotten better. We look forward to it every year.”
People don’t have to stop at the Harvest House; “you can do the whole loop,” Beck said. “Every farm has a personality.”
Down the dusty, country road at Walters’ Fruit Ranch, the Hodgson family was enjoying their yearly tradition of picking apples – Golden and Red Delicious – to make grandma’s apple “hand pies” or turnovers.
“Here’s a good one, Ashley,” Brian Hodgson said to his 7-year-old daughter. Then he lifted her up to pick it and add it to the box.
Jason Morrell, who helps run the family business at the farm, said “the apple crop was definitely good this year.”
He added, “It was the best year I’ve ever had for pumpkins. One guy asked me if I dumped a semi full out there because there were so many.”
Between Beck’s and Morrell’s farm is another popular apple farm, Siemers, whose owner is also pleased with this year’s growing season.
“The apple crop is fairly good; every orchard can be a little different, but I’d say overall it’s pretty good,” said Byron Siemers, an owner of Siemers Farm – one of Green Bluff’s largest apple farms. “I haven’t heard anything bad about the crop.”
He added, “I can’t complain because I got more apples than I can sell anyway.”