A fruity celebration at Applefest

Applefest is a family-friendly celebration of all things apple this weekend.
Applefest is a family-friendly celebration of all things apple this weekend.
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Forget Glastonbury and music worshipping festivals, this weekend an East Yorkshire village will celebrate the English apple in all its forms at a special one-day festival.

Long Riston’s Applefest is now in its third year and while it’s still small scale the popularity of this family-friendly celebration is growing year on year.

People from across the East Riding and further afield will descend on Manor Farm later today for the annual celebration of all things apple.

Organiser and host James Britton said: “My neighbour Will first suggested that we have a ‘cider afternoon’ and get together to press apples, that then grew into having a meal afterwards and a barn dance and Applefest was born.”

James built the apple press, known affectionately as “Lady Jane” after the previous resident of Manor Farm Lady Jane Bethell.

He said: “We had a small press but it just wasn’t big enough so we used some sleepers I had for the garden to build this press. A local engineering firm constructed the stainless steel collecting section so everything is locally sourced and then the press was built on site.”

During Saturday “Lady Jane” will press more than a tonne of apples. The press needs three to four people to operate it, with additional people sorting apples to keep the process flowing.

James said: “We encourage people to bring along apples from their own gardens and then help us to press them into apple juice, which they can buy later on in the day. Anyone who brings 10kg of apples or more can have two litres of free apple juice.

“Each year we take some of the apple juice and make it in to cider, which we serve up at the festival the following year.”

Apples play a part in every part of the festival, from the afternoon pressing to the drinking and finally the pudding at the evening barn dance, which is apple and blackberry crumble.

James organised the first Applefest in October 2011, with his wife Maria and their four children, but in early 2012 Maria was diagnosed with cancer and died in November of that year.

James said: “When we set up Applefest it was just to raise money for the church, but after Maria died we decided to split the funds between the church, the village primary school and Marie Curie.”

What started as a barn dance to celebrate pressing apples has turned into a full day of family entertainment. Apple pressing starts at 12pm but there will also be table skittles, archery, morris dancing and a ceilidh.

Children can have their faces painted, make a morris dancing stick and join in a morris dancing workshop before they have their own barn dance at 5pm.

People are also invited to bring along entries for the apple pie competition, and there will also be an apple crate stacking contest.

Cream teas are available in the afternoon before the evening barn dance and ceilidh begin at 7pm.

James said: “The emphasis is on local, all the apples come from local farms, as does the hog roast – even the bands are local, the ceilidh band are from Hessle which isn’t far away and The Uncharted are from the village itself.

“We want people to come along and have a nice time, enjoy themselves with their family and raise money for charities at the same time.”

Since Maria died James has done a number of fundraising activities for Marie Curie, including a half-ironman challenge which saw him swim the Humber in July and cycling on behalf of the charity ahead of the Yorkshire stage of the Tour de France.

James said: “I’ve done a lot of fundraising over the past two years, various running and cycling events, but there are some that I would like to become annual and Applefest is definitely one of those.”

Applefest is free. Tickets to the evening barn dance are £10 for adults, £5 for 10-16 year olds and children under 10 are free. For more details see www.applefestival.co.uk