Summer grows sweeter with apple festival

Gravenstein Days coming this weekend

One of Hood River County’s most popular agricultural festivals marks its 10th year this weekend.

Gravenstein Days is back, throughout the Hood River Valley Fruit Loop. Plenty of fruit will be available, whole or in pies, sauces and other variations, but the late-summer festival focuses on the increasingly scarce Gravenstein.

“Gravenstein Apple Days is the perfect time to find them and enjoy a weekend of country food, fun, entertainment and attractions for the whole family,” said Kaye White, Fruit Loop director.

White said this is the perfect time to enjoy a taste of the flavorful Gravenstein; the variety is considered by many as the best for pies, applesauce and desserts, as well as a tart and tasty eating apple.

But the Gravenstein season is early and short, and Gravenstein lovers often arrive too late in the harvest to enjoy them, according to White.

Participating fruit stands all along the Hood River Valley’s famous Fruit Loop will have an abundance of Gravensteins for sale, as well as other popular early fall fruit and fresh garden produce, cold apple cider, pies and gourmet treats. Special activities add to the celebration this weekend. The Dee Fire Department will host an old-fashioned country barbecue from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday at the Dee Fire Station, 5235 Lost Lake Rd. Volunteer firefighters serve up hot barbecued roast beef sandwiches or kielbasa hot dogs with side dishes, apple crisp, and tea, coffee or lemonade.

Food is also the draw at Apple Valley Country Store, 2363 Tucker Road, where apple dumplings and pies — especially Gravenstein apple pies — are the centerpiece of a “Gravenstein Pie & Ice Cream Social.” Whole pies are available to take home.

Wine enthusiasts will want to be sure to visit Hood River Vineyards, 4693 Westwood Dr., for their annual Gravenstein Days Open House with free wine and cider tasting, light hors d’ouevres, Gravenstein treats and special discounts. Flerchinger Vineyards, 4200 Post Canyon Rd., will also be celebrating with an open house, cheese and crackers, free wine tasting and special case discounts. This is a great opportunity to meet the winemakers and try their new releases.

Take an hourlong orchard tour/hayride of Kiyokawa Family Orchards, 8129 Clear Creek Road, growers of 60 varieties of apples and pears on over 100 acres in Parkdale. Hosted by Randy Kiyokawa, the tour describes their family history as third generation Japanese-American farmers and provides a historical overview of orcharding in the Hood River Valley. Pick your own Gravenstein, Gingergold or Sansa apples. See their 90-year-old Gravenstein Apple tree that produces nearly a ton of fruit all by itself. Tours are $7.50 per person and leave each hour.

Visitors to Draper’s Farm, 6200 Highway 35, can find a variety of u-pick produce and try their own special blend of apple cider. Kids will also enjoy the free pony rides and farm animals.

A full line-up of activities for kids of all ages awaits visitors to Rasmussen Farms, 3020 Thomsen Road — from squash bowling to a treasure hunt in the flower and vegetable gardens. Enjoy live music and the popular pie walk from 1 to 3 p.m. both days. The corn maze opens this weekend for the fall season.

McCurdy Farms will be serving the icy cold apple cider slushies and previewing the line of Clear Creek Distillery’s pear-in-a-bottle eau-de-vie, grown in their Bartlett pear orchard.

For more information about Gravenstein Apple Days, or for a copy of the Hood River County Fruit Loop Map, contact the Fruit Loop at 1-888-771-7327. The Fruit Loop website is www.hoodriverfruitloop.com.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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