WASHOUGAL — Savoring a warm apple dumpling or slice of apple pie seems like one of the better ways to enjoy a rainy fall day in the Northwest.
That was the mindset of Jenniel Thompson, one of the many of people who sampled baked apple treats Sunday at Riverside Christian School’s annual apple festival, a fundraiser for the school.
“They are to die for,” the Washougal woman said of the festival’s dumplings. “The crust was so flaky.”
She had yet to try the apple pie, opting to buy a whole frozen pie instead — and bring it home to share with others.
Lead volunteer baker Cheri Bradford of Washougal kept her dumpling recipe close to the vest.
“It’s a secret recipe. It took me several years to come up with,” she said.
But she did reveal that part of the secret is in the sugary sauce drizzled over each dumpling. What’s in the sauce? “Pure goodness,” is all she would say.
Dozens of volunteers spent two recent Sundays making the pies and dumplings, then freezing them for the festival. They baked 160 dumplings and 20 pies for guests to eat on the day of the event, and froze 300 pies and 1,200 dumplings for visitors to buy and bake later.
It’s quite a production for the school, which serves just 39 students, preschool through eighth grade, said event organizer Stephanie Bennett.
This year she brought in a wider variety of apples from Camas Produce, figuring that people attending an apple festival would want to try as many kinds of apples as possible. The event still offered its big apple slingshot, vendor booths and pie-eating contest.
The apple festival has been a fixture in Washougal for 26 years, the school’s pastor, Merrill Caviness said, and it usually raises about $10,000 a year for Riverside Christian, which is affiliated with the Riverside Seventh-day Adventist Church. This year, the school also had a donor who agreed to match the raised funds dollar-for-dollar, Caviness said.
This year, the money raised will help pay for a remodel of the school’s front entrance, adding a reception area. It also will help cover a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program at the school. Part of that program will allow students to use their technical skills to build a play area outside, Bennett said.
Caviness said that, despite the rain, he was happy with Sunday’s turnout. The parking lot was full, and a van shuttled festivalgoers from overflow parking at a nearby skate park.
“Northwestern people know how to come out in the rain,” he said.
That included Vancouver siblings Lynnea Zevely, 8, and Matthew Zevely, 7, who chowed down on a couple of caramel apples. Lynnea learned that eating one can be a challenge if your two front teeth are still growing in. It was “kind of hard to bite it,” the girl said.
She and her brother explored the festival while their mother, Karena Zevely of Usborne Books & More, worked at a vendor table. Her children don’t attend the school, but have enjoyed the festival in past years.
“I can do my booth, and my kids can have fun,” she said.
Lynnea spent at least an hour on Sunday petting the bunny rabbits at the event. She also had her face painted and went through the bounce house about four times.
“One of my other favorite parts are the decorations,” the girl said of the event, “and the apples — if you can eat them properly.”