.Gravenstein Apple Fair Celebrates 50 Years

Anyone driving the Gravenstein Highway has seen them: apple orchards. Apples—in particular Gravensteins—have been part of Sonoma County’s roots, growing in orchards and backyards for over 200 years since they were planted at Fort Ross in the early 1800s.

Accordingly, 50 years ago, in honor of the prolific, sweet-tart fruit, Sonoma County Farm Trails established the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair. Locals take note, because in celebration of the beloved fair’s golden anniversary, they’ll be throwing the grandest affair yet during the weekend of Aug. 12 and 13.

“We’re excited to throw the biggest party in our 50-year history,” said executive director and Gravenstein Apple Fair producer Carmen Snyder. “This year, we’re honoring the foresight of our founding farmers and their vision to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County.”

Revelers may join in the festivities at Ragle Ranch Regional Park in Sebastopol to participate in this family-friendly and music-filled milestone celebrating and helping to preserve local farms in Sonoma County.

Over its long history, the fair has shared the delicious benefits of farm-to-table production and sustainability, with a particular focus on the Gravenstein apple, which Slow Food USA named a “heritage food” in 2005, and added to their “Ark of Taste.”

One may go with friends, bring a date or purchase a family or group pass and take the whole crew. VIP tickets are available this year too, and include free drinks and luxury tents, as well as allowing VIP patrons to skip the lines. Highlights of this year’s golden jubilee for all include music, food, drinks, hands-on demonstrations, kids’ activities and of course all things Gravenstein.

Attendees may get into the Gravenstein groove with live music both days from Bay Area bands including Poor Man’s Whiskey, Rainbow Girls and Royal Jelly Jive.

The fruits of the area may be tasted with Sonoma County’s celebrity vintners and chefs. Cider, wine and beer offerings include Slow Food award-winning apple cider from Tilted Shed, award-winning wines from Merry Edwards and Gold-medal lager from Seismic. Offerings from local chefs include pork from James Beard award-winner Black Piglet. And of course, an entire area will be dedicated to Gravenstein products.

Fair organizers know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Kids aren’t forgotten in this festival for the entire family, with special activities for them including contests, ag activities, art projects, farm animals, bubbles and wandering entertainers.

The sweetest little fair in Sonoma County is dedicated to preserving agriculture for the next generation, with this year’s anniversary festival honoring legacy farmers, today’s producers and farm workers.

“We’re delighted to showcase the next generation of inspiring farmers and ranchers who are meeting the moment and cultivating a more resilient food system through regenerative agricultural practices,” affirmed Snyder.

Regenerative farming goes beyond sustainability leaving the land better than before. Accordingly, regenerative goals extend to the festival itself. Last year’s event was truly green at 95% zero-waste and received the first-ever “Green Resolution” Award by Sonoma County Zero Waste. So what’s next for Sonoma County farms?

“Our north star is to keep ‘farms forever’ in Sonoma County, and we continue to work toward supporting this guiding vision of a diversified and resilient food system in which regenerative agriculture and joyful gatherings are part of the solution to the challenges we collectively face,” Snyder said, “We look forward to another 50 years of serving our farmers and cultivating meaningful connections in our broader community.”

So raise a glass of cider and toast to agriculture and the Gravenstein apple, and to 50 years past and future of the Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sonoma County.

The festival runs 10am-6 pm, Saturday and Sunday, Aug 12 and 13 at 500 Ragle Rd., Sebastopol. Advance tickets: adult $23; child $10; under 5 free. VIP experience tickets: adult $150; minors $75; under 5 free. Family pass: (2 adults, 2 kids) $55. Group pass: (6 adults) $120. For more information, visit GravensteinAppleFair.com, farmtrails.org or call 707-837-8896.

Kary Hesshttp://karyhess.com
Kary Hess is the author of the poetry collection 1912, creator of the SparkTarot® and producer of the feature film Pill Head. She lives and works in Sonoma County, CA.



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