By Jim Krencik
Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — The Niagara Apple Festival was light on the festival’s eponymous fruit, but the celebration included more than enough to keep the County Fairgrounds crowd entertained and well-fed.
The festival, which returned from a one-year hiatus, attracted hundreds of patrons and dozens of vendors to the fairgrounds this weekend.
While the season’s bounty couldn’t handle the customary apple at the entrance, attendees quickly grabbed up their favorite varieties of apples and apple products.
Inside the vendor’s building, Rob Dowdell and Mike Mole of the Tonawanda-based Adam’s Apples had no trouble marketing their home-made caramel apples.
“People said they’ve come just for this,” Mole said, with the apple crisp apples a popular choice.
There were plenty of requests for the now gone honeycrisps at Joe McCracken’s spot at the outdoor market, but a selection of gourds and apples sold well.
“Surprisingly, golden deliciouses (are the best seller),” said McCracken, a third-generation farmer at the Brockport farm. “I’m not really a fan of them.”
Event organizer Rich Hoose said he was happy there were even enough apples for the festival.
The 2012 apple season began early this year due unseasonably warm temperatures. Those early buds and blooms didn’t survive the return to frosty weather, giving many local farmers a limp yield from their orchards.
“I don’t know how they do it ... with the amount of produce they bring and the frost, there aren’t apples to spare,” Hoose said.
Prudom Farms in Middleport brought a wide variety of produce and pre-made foods to the festival. They sold out their apple pies Saturday, but continued to do brisk business Sunday selling one-, two-, four- and eight-quart bags and bushels of seven varieties of apples.
Prudom Farms owner Stacey McAvoy said the season won’t last much longer, which means that those waiting to pick up fruits and vegetables need to act fast.
“(Despite the reduced availability) there’s not much difference in sales,” McAvoy said. “But if they want it, they have to get it now ... we usually sell out by Halloween.”
Those who grabbed apples this weekend had different kitchen projects in mind — some said they are making pies, others had applesauce and jellies in mind.
Sue Olds, who picked up some from McCracken’s stand, teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science classes at Roy-Hart. She said she’ll use the apples for a hands-on learning activity.
“We’re teaching the students about physical changes, like cutting the apples, and chemical changes, like how they brown after peeling,” said Olds. “And then they get to eat them.”
According to Hoose, events like Sunday’s celtic games and music and an appearance by the Rumbling Buffalo food truck on Saturday helped make up for the apple shortage.
Hoose said more events, like educational presentations and a barbecue contest, are on the list for 2013 additions, but the No. 1 thing he wants to see next year is no surprise.
“Hopefully next year, there’s more apples,” Hoose said.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 439-9222, ext. 6327.