Gather round the Old Apple Tree again

Annual festival evokes the earliest uses of state's iconic fruit

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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Hundreds of people were at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on Saturday to celebrate another year of survival for Vancouver's Old Apple Tree.The afternoon was all about apples for those who attended the annual Old Apple Tree Festival. The event featured fresh apples, apple juice and cider, samples of the fruit, tree-pruning demonstrations and music by Green Apple Jam, among others.

Irma Villarreal; her daughter Judith Guitron; and granddaughters Trinity, 4, and Leila, 9, picked up some fresh apples at the festival and then turned their bounty into apple cider. The girls worked together at the hand-crank, pressing juice out of the apple slices.

"I felt that it would be good for my granddaughters to experience this," said Villarreal, who lives in Vancouver. "They learned how to make cider. Usually, we just buy it at the store."

The tree that was planted at Fort Vancouver in 1826 is considered the matriarch of the state's apple industry.

Over 186 years, the tree has survived flood, wind, ice, snow, human encroachment and damage to a major limb in 2009. Despite it all, the tree still stands.