At the beginning of fall, I'd like to think that I'm not alone in visualizing myself walking down a leaf-covered sidewalk with a fall-flavored-coffee encased in my mittened hand. Along with being a time for consuming far too many warm beverages, fall is a time for celebration. Outside of the countryside, people only glimpse some of the more consumer-based aspects of fall; and while Starbucks and discount boots may seem of prime importance, there's a simpler version of fall that merits just as many smiles.
The not so faraway town of Tecumseh, in Southern Michigan, welcomes visitors to its annual "Appleumpkin Festival" in early October. This festival crowds the streets with vendors, booths, and a plethora of food, as people begin breaking in their fall gear. On the outskirts of the tiny Michigan town, autumn transforms Kapnick Orchards into a fall-time destination through their annual Apple Festival. This year's 35th anniversary of the Apple Festival will impress locals as well as anyone willing to make the drive out during the weekend of October 12-13.
Kapnick Orchards has seen a fair amount of change over the years; starting in 1961 as a roadside stand, the family has seen it develop into both a wildly successful store and thriving orchard. Cousins, Sharon Shaffer and Kim Amstutz (both whom I had the pleasure of interviewing), are part of the current family generation keeping the Orchard thriving, and they seemed excited for the coming months of fall.
Throughout the fall season, wagon rides that traverse through the orchard and the surrounding woods are available to the public. According to Sharon, they're always adding new attractions to the wagon ride, and this year, the employees' favorite add-on is their Despicable Me characters. "We just love our minions!" Sharon exclaimed, while excitedly explaining the ensuing autumn's events to me.
Although the Orchard offers autumn-themed enticements on a daily basis during fall, there will also be special attractions for visitors during the Apple Festival weekend. A bake-off contest will encourage baking enthusiasts to bring in their best recipes and homemade goods; dozens of activity and craft centers will be scattered throughout the property. And entertainment will not be lacking at all, with an array of magicians, clowns, a petting zoo, and live music.
The majority of people may end up being content with the simple pleasures of a family-run orchard. Kapnick's most popular items are their homemade caramel apples (which you can hand select and then see painted with caramel before your very eyes), their homemade apple butter (churned outdoors for 8 hours—the good ole fashioned way), and their homemade apple cider (which doubles as another top seller: apple cider slushes!). It's obvious that the lure for city folk and out-of-towners will be seeing the roots of the autumn season coming to life in a more interactive way than a family trip to Kroger.
If your fall-preparation-lineup is lacking excitement, visit www.kapnickorchards.com for more information of location and activities, and stop by Kapnick Orchards sometime this fall! The Apple Festival activities will be happening this October, from 9 am – 6 pm on Saturday the 12th, or 10 am – 5 pm on Sunday the 13th.