By: Julia Montejo ’17
Every October, during the first weekend of the month, the Great Downtown Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival takes over Ithaca Commons. For the past three years, this has been one of my favorite times of the year! Colloquially known as Apple Fest, this event brings together students from the city’s three colleges (Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College), surrounding area visitors, and local residents to enjoy a celebration of the abundant apple harvest in the Ithaca area.
This year, food and crafts vendors lined the newly redesigned Commons and two adjacent blocks of Downtown Ithaca to showcase local products. As I walked through Apple Fest, I snacked on a local farm’s delicious “apple chips,” which are sliced apples covered in caramel, chocolate, and toppings of your choosing.
My friends and I couldn’t help ourselves – this year, we brought home fresh apples, an apple crisp tart, a peach pie, applesauce, and tomato garlic sauce.
As we stopped at different tents, the vendors were happy to talk to us about their favorite recipes and their production practices, which was a great way to connect to the Ithaca community on a deeper level.
A variety of musical acts, from cultural dance groups to cover bands and a cappella groups, also performed on the Commons’ new performance pavilion. I especially liked watching the DixieKats, a local, upbeat concert band, perform. Everyone seemed to have a smile on their face as they walked through the Commons and danced or just listened to the music.
As a freshman, I discovered my love for Ithaca at Apple Fest, and this year’s Fest reaffirmed that love and appreciation. Seeing the community come together to celebrate not just for apples, but local culture as a whole, always brightens my fall semester. It’s amazing to see so many locals be so welcoming of college students, and vice versa. With a full tummy and a grin from ear to ear, I always leave Apple Fest happy to be a part of such a vibrant, inclusive community.