The Recorder – CiderDays a national draw for apple epicureans


DEERFIELD and NEW SALEM – CiderDays, Franklin County’s annual celebration of apples, cider and local orchards, had a sweet revival for locals this past weekend.

The 27th annual festival, first held on county farms, has grown into a nationally recognized event. Over a quarter of a century since its inception, however, CiderDays has maintained its strongest roots in the cities that gave birth to it. Highlights on Sunday included a cooking demonstration held at Deerfield’s Clarkdale Fruit Farms and a cider-making class held at New Salem Preserves & Orchards.

Lisa Davol, director of marketing for the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, who is the coordinator of CiderDays, said the event has grown from a small-scale cider festival to a “celebration of the local economy.” .

“In this country, it’s the epicenter of cider,” she said of Franklin County. “We have people coming from all over the country for this. It’s like a reunion, in a way.

One of the people who attend this annual “reunion” is chef and Williamsburg native Erika Connell Cooper. Connell Cooper, a longtime friend of Clarkdale Fruit Farms owner Ben Clark, was an instructor for the farm’s CiderDays outdoor cooking series, a role she had also played in recent years. For this year’s demonstration, she cooked a sweet and savory apple and bacon stuffing made almost entirely from local ingredients.

“I really want to do things to support and showcase the ingredients that (Clark) has on his farm,” said Connell Cooper.

For her, using such local ingredients while cooking is a priority. In addition to the apples and cider she bought at Clarkdale Fruit Farms for her Sunday demonstration, she bought her bread at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville, her shallots and bacon at Atlas Farm in South Deerfield and her mushrooms at Mycoterra Farm. in Deerfield.

“I am a champion of local ingredients,” she said. “I share them with friends. I like to cook with as many local ingredients as possible.

The cooking demonstration, which lasted about 30 minutes, resulted in a batch of “tasty, complex and rich” stuffing that marry tangy notes with autumnal apple flavors and the warm comfort of broth-soaked bread to soothe the palates of the locals. vacation.

“Stuffing is a great side for any occasion, not just the vacation,” said Connell Cooper.

At New Salem Preserves & Orchards, cider maker and CiderDays board member April Woodard took a more traditional route with her demo, tracing back to CiderDays’ pure cider roots.

“There is something that I love about it,” said Woodard. “The mystery, its making, its science, if that turns you on.”

Her class catered for all skill levels, being straightforward enough for the average person to understand while also being packed with expert advice that could prove useful for any cider lover. She guided those present through her process and pointed out the variety of methods available to a manufacturer. Woodard’s main teaching, however, was his idea that the apple should be allowed to “express itself,” suggesting that the cider maker should manipulate the fruit to a minimum for ideal results.

Davol said the future of the CiderDays is so bright that it can become worrying in terms of preparation. She said organizers will have their work cut out for them to cope with the celebration’s burgeoning national popularity.

“We are able to determine how to move forward in a sustainable manner,” she said.

Contact Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]

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