Apple Fest has major appeal

Core values explored as participants rate favorite varieties in Venersborg

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor



Did you know?

Washington designated the apple as the official state fruit in 1989.

The Washington State Apple Commission reports the harvest of Washington apples begins in mid-August and generally ends in early November.

Each year, Washington harvests more than 100 million boxes of apples, each weighing about 40 pounds.

The top apple? Red Delicious with about 34 percent of the harvest, followed by Gala at 19 percent.

On the Web:

The Home Orchard Society in March will be offering apple tree starts at its Fruit Propagation Fair at the Clackamas (Ore.) County Fairgrounds in Canby. The website is:

Apple Fest was sponsored by Friendly Haven Rise Farm at:

VENERSBORG — With 220 varieties of apples to taste at Sunday’s Apple Fest, there were decisions to make.

Which had the best flavor, which were the reddest and which tasted the worst.

And more than 250 visitors seemed up to the task.

“Ambrosia is a good one. Try this,” apple enthusiast Jacqueline Freeman said to Guy Yancey, a retired truck driver who recently moved to Venersborg.

“It’s sweet,” Yancey proclaimed and proceeded to the blackboard to write the apple’s name under the category “Most delicious.”

This was the fifth year for the event at the historic Venersborg Schoolhouse on 209th Street.

Apples came from area farms and from the Home Orchard Society, which last week had a tasting of mostly heritage apples in Canby, Ore. Heritage apples are from trees that are at least 100 years old, said Freeman. She ought to know, as she and her husband, Joseph, have 30 apple trees on the 18 Venersborg. acres they farm. They call their place Friendly Haven Rise Farm.

Freeman said most Americans try about six types of apples in their lifetime when many more are available. “At the turn of the century, we had over 2,000 varieties,” she said.

Joanie Cooper of the Home Orchard Society said some people have apple trees and don’t know what variety they are growing. So, she and others examined apples and identified about 25 types brought to the event. Some were as recent as Fujis and one was a Tompkins King, which dates to 1804 in New York state.

Nine-year-old Abby Walden of Hockinson said she liked the slice of an apple named Hidden Rose. “It tastes good. It was very sweet,” she said. It is lime-green on the skin and rosy inside, she said.

Her mom, Anne-Marie Walden, said she liked Wolf River, calling it “a big, crunchy apple.”

As for the smallish Red Flesh Crab, “It’s a little bit sour,” Anne-Marie said.

“I’m doing the shotgun method,” said Donna Delay, who lives north of Battle Ground’s Lewisville Park. “I have one that I nominated for worst taste: Porter’s Perfection. Should have the word pucker after it.”

Rick Sievers of Venersborg was one of the hosts, cutting slices for guests. “This is really fun. I had no idea what I was getting into,” he said.

The name of each apple appeared on its paper plate. Some on the blackboard’s most delicious list: Belleflower, Ginger Gold, Gold Rush, Sweet Winesap, Virginia Beauty and Liberty.

On strangest flavor, someone nominated Cox’s Orange. For reddest, Arkansas Black and Bizbee appeared in chalk. And worst taste was topped by Adams, with 12 votes.

Mary Jo Lewis, 81, of Battle Ground reminded visitors that the schoolhouse will turn 100 next year. She is a member of the Venersborg Community Club and was a leader in getting an indoor toilet at the schoolhouse two years ago. She said she managed the Flush Fund.

And she said it makes her happy to see activities in the schoolhouse.

“You see many three generations come in,” she said, showing youngsters timeless skills.

By the way, proceeds from Apple Fest will go to shingle the exterior of the bathroom and to start the rehabilitation of the Old Swedish Dancing Barn, up the hill from the schoolhouse.