Manton Apple Festival
By Melissa Mendonca
An Apple A Day
Story by Melissa Mendonca
Photos courtesy of Manton Apple Festival
THERE'S A LOT to take in at the Manton Apple Festival, which will be held Oct. 5 at the Manton School grounds. Music all day long. Arts and crafts booths. Children’s activities. And of course, apple pie.
There’s one thing that won’t be there though, and it won’t be for lack of trying.
“There won’t be a cookbook,” laughs Kay Zimmerman, one of about 10 organizers of the event. “Some of these people are really territorial about their pies.” The organizing committee once thought to create a recipe book for the event, but were quickly shut down due to lack of entries.
Indeed, the apple pie contest is a highlight of the event, with a panel of celebrity judges and a bevy of die-hard bakers competing for top honors. “They can do what they want,” adds Zimmerman, meaning the winner may have a crumble top, a lattice crust, embellishments such as caramel or secret spices. A recent past winner stood three inches high and was drenched in caramel. Other winners have been more traditional. It’s all up to the judges, who accept their roles knowing the value placed on their decisions.
The festival, which turns 28 this year, began with a few purposes. At the time, there were many small apple orchards in the area and the owners needed a market. “This was started as a way to help them sell,” says Zimmerman. While the number of area apple growers has dwindled over the years, the event remains a vital time of gathering for the community. “The emphasis is now on scholarships,” she adds. “Most all of the money goes to student scholarships. We’re in excess of $50,000 of scholarships at this point.”
Parking and entrance to the event are free, so those scholarships are generated by sales of pie slices, all baked by volunteers who have gone out to local trees to pick the apples. “There are still some orchards around,” says Zimmerman, noting that volunteers may also go to a single backyard tree in the community. “We do whatever we have to do to get them.”
Preparations for pies begin the week before the event, and the Friday before, a team of 12 to 14 volunteers gathers to bake. “Friday there’s just rows and rows of pies sitting at the Grange Hall,” says Zimmerman. Anywhere from 200 to 250 pies are baked for the event, and guests are encouraged to not wait until too late in the day on Saturday to come out for a slice. They are popular and sell out every year.
The event has always been held at the field of Manton School, which was closed recently, forcing area children to travel to surrounding communities for their educations. The school is centrally located and easy to find on Forward Road, and the community hopes it will remain a venue for the festival for years to come.
Also popular are the 100 local craft booths which feature only handcrafted items. “There are no commercial booths allowed,” says Zimmerman. “Because it’s in October and it’s strictly handmade, a lot of people like to come up and do a little Christmas shopping.” Crafters come in from Tehama and Shasta counties but also as far as Chico and McCloud.
“A lot of people enjoy the music,” she adds. “We’ll have groups throughout the day. It’s usually more country-driven.” This year’s lineup includes Patti and Jade, Mountain Messengers, North State Fiddlers, Loosely Strung and Shooting Stars.
Regardless of the main impetus to attend, it’s a sure thing that the combination of apple pie, live music and arts and crafts makes a delightful way to spend a fall day in this quaint mountain town of 700. The fact that proceeds support local scholars only sweetens the pie. •
Manton Apple Festival
Saturday, October 5 • 9 am - 4 pm
Manton School • 31345 Forward Road