Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Last weekend’s third Annual Hood River Hard-Pressed Cider Fest, a Hood River County Chamber of Commerce event, drew approximately 3,000 people to the Odell fruit packing district. The family-friendly celebration was full of cider-seeking locals and visitors from open to close, according to event coordinator Ashley Huckaby May.
A total of 44 ciders from 22 cideries accompanied live music and the food from local vendors, including Odell’s Michoacan Grill and Parkdale’s Apple Valley BBQ. Mt. Defiance Fruit Company, built in 2013, hosts the event, using space that come August will fill with fruit and trucks delivering it.
Brian Thompson of Sandy said he came because his wife wanted to check out the ciders, but the event was an eye-opener for him.
‘There are so many distinct flavors. It’s hard to imagine all the possibilities. I want to make my own now,” said Thompson, drinking the pear-watermelon cider that had a line snaking around two sides of the room by early afternoon. (It’s from Neigel Vintners, Wenatchee Valley).
The event was packed, but FoxTail cider maker Bob Fox, whose family owns the facility, said that combined with refinements to parking, the venue can take on more people. Fox said there is an additional storage space that can be opened up, and the entry tents could be moved out from under the outdoor covered area to make more room.
Local cider makers said the event was not only a showcase for local ciders but a chance for people to taste, in one place, the wide variety that Oregon and the Northwest have to share.
Nationally, cider sales rose 40 percent in 2015, and a 12 percent increase is expected in 2016, according to the Northwest Cider Association.
“I like this because it’s kind of a rallying point for local ciders, because we’re all really busy doing our stuff and when do we have the chance otherwise?” said Brian Perkey of Parkdale’s Hood Valley Cider (the first to bottle local cider, c. 2012). “Plus, we bring in all these visiting ciders.”
The Hood River County Chamber of Commerce added Cider Fest to its calendar of events in 2014. The Chamber also puts on the annual Hood River Hops Fest, Hood River Harvest Fest, Hood River Holidays and the Roy Webster Cross-Channel Swim events.
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