Grist mill's popularity squeezes out cider pressing

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

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For the Cedar Creek Grist Mill, it looks like there is such a thing as being too popular.

The historic mill had to cancel its annual fall cider pressing this year because turnout has gotten too large for the venue to handle, said Tom Henrich, a board member and volunteer with the Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill organization.

"Unfortunately, we've become a victim of our own success," Henrich said. "The crowds have become unmanageable. The parking situation is untenable. We became concerned about the safety of our visitors."

The mill, which is run solely by donations and volunteers, has limited parking available in a narrow and winding section of Grist Mill Road outside of Woodland. The friends organization is looking into ways to expand it, but plans for that also have their share of problems.

"We're looking at the possibility of attaining some off-site parking, but then we'd have to have a shuttle, and that opens liability issues," Henrich said.

For the past several years, the mill has also had to have inspections and special permits from the Washington State Department of Health to conduct the pressing.

"Most people don't realize the amount of precautions that have to go into apple pressing," Henrich said. "People, sometimes they pick apples up off the ground, and they are so flirting with salmonella by doing that."

The mill will still be open during its regular weekend schedule of 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays throughout the winter.

"If we can find solutions to the problems with our cider pressing event, we'll certainly bring it back," Henrich said. "But we couldn't manage it this year."


Sue Vorenberg: 360-735-4457; http://twitter.com/col_SueVo; sue.vorenberg@columbian.com.