Hard-Pressed a resounding success

Smoke on the Water plays to the crowd during the Hard-Pressed Cider Fest Saturday in Odell.

Photo by Adam Lapierre.
Smoke on the Water plays to the crowd during the Hard-Pressed Cider Fest Saturday in Odell.

Gauging the success of a first-ever event can be “a bit of a crapshoot,” says Mike Glover, executive director of the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce. Will people show up? Will the weather cooperate? Will people enjoy themselves?

In the case of this weekend’s first-ever (and soon to be annual) Hard-Pressed Cider Fest, though, the chamber couldn’t have asked for a better debut.

Well over 1,000 people came to the Mt. Defiance Cold Storage Unit on Stadelman Drive in Odell last Saturday to sample some of the 40 or so hard ciders offered by the 12 cideries present at the festival, as well as enjoy food from a handful of local vendors and some live music. In addition to the cider, guests drank in the sunny skies, warm weather, and the brilliant whites and pinks of the valley’s flowering orchards that were popping just in time for Blossom Fest, which also kicked off last weekend.


Kristina Nance from Rack and Cloth in Mosier serves up some of her cider to a guest during the event. The festival was a great success, and the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce is planning a follow-up next year.

Glover said the cider fest was so popular that attendees quickly “blew through” the 900 tasting glasses the chamber had ordered for the event, as well as 200 plastic mugs left over from last year’s Hops Fest that were used as backup tasting vessels for the cider fest.

The event started at noon, but by 3:30 p.m., it had sold out, reported Glover.

“For a first-year event, I was surprised by the level of interest from the community,” he noted.

“It was a huge success,” Glover added. “It exceeded our expectations.”

The festival served as a way to showcase the Gorge’s budding cider industry, as well as cideries from Portland and the I-5 corridor. The adult beverage has enjoyed a recent resurgence amongst American palates as imbibers look for alternatives to beer and wine or seek out cider due to its gluten-free properties.

The festival was friendly to cider neophytes, and vendors were more than willing to take the time to explain the nuances of cider making to their guests.

Mike Held, who came from The Dalles to enjoy the event, said he was a “novice, at best” cider drinker, but decided to check out the festival, in part, due to the drink’s rising prominence.

“There are a lot of new ciders popping up and it’s kind of the new fad, so I figured I’d try it out,” he said.

There was certainly a lot for him to choose from. Cider, like beer, wine or liquor, comes in many varieties and not all are made from apples. Pears, berries, and other fruits are popular alternatives. Hops, while normally associated with beer, can also be used in ciders — a few of which made an appearance at the festival.

One such cider received top honors at a judging held during the festival where three cider experts — Glover didn’t have details as to what their exact credentials were — tasted all the ciders to decide which would take home the Best in Show award.

The winner was Hop Stalk, a dry-hopped, rhubarb cider produced by 2 Towns Ciderhouse of Corvallis, whose rhubarb sweetness and hop bitterness produced a very balanced cider. Jake Bennett, a “cider wrangler” for 2 Towns who was pouring at the event, said it was his first trip ever to Hood River.

“I’ve never been to Hood River, but it sounded like a cool event,” he said of the cider fest. “Going to first-annual events are pretty cool, because you get to be here right at the beginning of things.”

While 2 Towns took home Best in Show, the crowd favorite was one from newcomer Rack and Cloth, a Mosier cidery whose entrance into the cider fest was its first-ever public event. Rack and Cloth won the People’s Choice for Stony Pig, a dry cider that had a taste slightly reminiscent of a farmhouse-style ale.

Kristina Nance, who operates the cidery with her boyfriend, Silas Bleakley, was thrilled with the festival and the venue.

“I think it’s fantastic. It’s super well-organized,” she said, adding that it was “great to showcase our new ciders along with some more established cideries.”

Nance said Rack and Cloth, which is named for the process in which apples are pressed into cider, plans to open a tasting room at the former site of 10 Speed East in downtown Mosier. The site will also feature draft beers, seasonal farm-to-table food, and retail sales of produce and eggs from the couple’s farm, Mosier Valley Organics, and is expected to open June 1.

Glover said the chamber is already planning to hold the cider fest again next year and is considering adding more cideries, establishing a remote parking site and a shuttle, as well as using more of the space available in the cold storage unit.

“There’s room to grow there,” he noted.

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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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