The Hay Creek Apple Festival offered two days of apple fun and traditional apple food in every variation.
Held at the historic Joanna Furnace in Robeson Township on Oct. 8 and 9, the festival featured traditional apple food, a flea market, scarecrow building, pumpkin painting, hay rides and the popular Apple Barrel Express.
A highlight of the day was the food, traditional early American dishes and festival favorites such as apple dumplings, apple pies, apple crisp, homemade caramel apples with various toppings, apple fritters, hot mulled cider and freshly pressed cider.
Twins Levi and Eav Martin, 2, along with their older brother Jason, 5, helped feed apples into the 19th-century Joanna Furnace apple cider press that was in operation throughout the day, offering visitors a taste of freshly pressed Hay Creek Cider by the cup or by the half-gallon to take home.
Visiting their grandparents in Elverson, cousins from as far away as Florida tried the apple cider made on the apple press, Amelia Capoocia, 13; Adam Capoocia, 11; Grace Capoocia, 16; Alexandra Ray, 8; Isabella Lindvor, 8, and William Ray, 6.
Then, were apples galore to choose from. Weaver’s Orchard had 11 varieties of apples and four types of pears for sale.
Local Scouts also got into the spirit of the festival. Scout Troop #543G of Plowville, which began meeting over Zoom in 2020, decorated and sold 288 cupcakes. The troop’s most popular cupcakes featured a campfire theme. The girls designed the cupcake decorations themselves.
”A lot of them (the mini marshmallows on top of the campfire cupcakes) get burned. We use a lighter,” said Anna-Marie Horning, 14, from Scout Troop No. 543G of Plowville.
Mabel’s Iron-Kettle Soups, cooked over open fires, can be traced back to the meals served to 19th-century furnace workers’ families. Soups served during the festival included chicken corn, beef vegetable, ham and bean with rivels. Soups were also available by the quart for taking home.
More than 100 vendors, crafters and flea marketers set up for the Hay Creek Apple Festival. The market included household, antique and vintage, tools, clothing, children’s toys, home décor and craft items.
Side Street Salvage of Elverson, for example, offered pumpkins for sale crafted from reclaimed barn siding and tin roofing.
Siblings Michael, 6; Marcus, 10; Mathan, 12; Miles, 7, of Honey Brook along with their Mom, Tabitha York, checked out Ron Messner’s standard-gauge trains on display.
Wagon Hay Rides were a popular attraction the Apple Festival as was the Apple Barrel Express rides.
Pumpkin painting and scarecrow building as always were popular family activities at the festival.
John Steiginga, 12, and Lila Steiginga, 7, of East Earl painted a pumpkin they named “Fred” at the festival while Sara Krall, Matt Ament, Mace Ament, 6; Luke Ament, 4, built their first ever scarecrow at the festival.
The festival also served as a window into history.
Joanna Furnace in southern Berks is a prime example of the ironmaking industry that fueled the county in the 1800s. The furnace operated from 1791 to 1898. In existence since 1975, the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association owns and oversees Joanna Furnace. While visitors may come and walk the 26-acre site from dusk until dawn, the historic buildings are only open during special events.
During the apple festival, a blacksmith worked in the Blacksmith Shop while interpreters also showed the process of charcoal making in the Charcoal House Museum and molders demonstrated the casting process in the Casting House. The Blowing Engine House showed a 22-minute video of the Joanna Furnace story and visitors had an opportunity to see Hay Creek’s latest restoration project — The Joanna Furnace Wheelwright Shop — which began in 2019 and was completed in the spring of 2020.
Source: Berkshire mont