Ever since the first European settlers came to this continent, the apple has figured prominently in our history and culture, and no more so than in New England. The apple, and the useful or pleasurable products derived from it, including cider and vinegar, has always been the quintessential homestead fruit. Even today, with our centralized farming and food distribution systems, many people cherish and help preserve some of the uncommon but wonderful old varieties of apple – most of them tied to a family or a town, including the regionally famous Bethel apple.
At 2pm on September 28th, as part of the Bethel Apple Festival, Bethel Historical Society will host a lecture and tasting with Ben Watson, apple historian and author of Cider, Hard and Sweet. Watson will discuss the apple’s biology, its ancestry in Central Asia, its journey to America, and the explosion of diverse new varieties that occurred as it spread all across our continent.
At a time when people are once again anxious to reconnect with our local and regional food traditions, the apple remains a powerful and living link to our past and to our sense of place. Learning the different seasons and uses for different apples can help us rediscover our roots (or establish new ones), as well as supporting local farmers and cider makers and conserving our agricultural “working landscapes.”
Other events at the Bethel Apple Festival include the Rotary Chicken BBQ at 11am; apple-related vendors at the town hall; an apple pie contest at noon; raffle drawings at 3pm; “The ORIGINAL Soup-A-Thon Supper” at the White Church at 5pm; and the Bethel Area Rotary Annual Penny Sale at Whitcomb High School, beginning at 7pm.