Bayfield Apple Festival the “Apple” of Town’s Eye

Festival draws in more than 50,000 visitors each year.

BAYFIELD, Wis.- Drawing in more than 50,000 visitors every year, the Apple Festival is one of Bayfield’s biggest events.

And you can tell, by how many people pack the streets for the parade.

Marching down Rittenhouse Avenue, laid out in front of the deep blue Lake Superior, the Grand Parade draws floats, attractions, and spectators from around the Northland.

As the drums of the marching bands and the cheers of the crowd come to an end and the streets fill with hustle and bustle again, many flock to the wide array of food available at the festival.

“Caramel apples, get your CARAMEL APPLES!”

Some are favorites every year.

“We’ve sold out of everything but Apple Turtle Sundaes so we can’t complain,” said Mackenzie Smith, owner of Apple Hill Orchard. “We also have a few caramel apples left, that’s to be expected. People usually get them on their way out.”

For local orchards like Apple Hill, Apple Fest is more than just a fun activity.

“It’s pivotal,” Smith said. “Especially for apple season, this determines how well we do, and if we’re able to keep functioning the way we do as an orchard.”

For those who like them apples just the way they are, there’s always the plain apples. But no apple at Apple Fest is ever “average.”

“The Hauser Merlot. Which is a very unique apple, unique to our orchard only,” said Dane Hauser.

The Hauser Merlot has been described as having a mixed, sweet and tart taste that leaves a crisp afternote.

“Start with the color–it’s almost purple in color so that’s how we get the name. It looks like a wine, the color of wine,” said Hauser, Manager at Hauser’s Superior View Farms. “So Hauser Merlot.”

“The flesh of the apple’s very white so when you slice into it there’s a very drastic contrast between the skin and the flesh.”

Making an apple this rare requires some creative harvesting by some smart apples.

As Hauser explained, the wood of the apple tree produces the fruit’s taste.

“We grafted a bunch of those onto certain types of root stock. I think we planted 400 trees a few years ago and now we’re starting to see fruit from these trees and as time goes on we’ll have more and more product available.”

Vendors here have been coming for years.

“We love it,” Smith said. “I mean it’s a great environment there;s great music going constantly, there’s food everywhere and a lot of really fun vendors you can find things you don’t find anywhere else.”

For some families it’s a tradition, and for some, it’s starting to be.

“The wife finally got a day off and so y’know we decided to come here,” said Jason O’Brian, a father here with his family.

What brings him and his kids back every year?

“I guess just the joy and the pure fun that they have. And the kind of, the way it kind of brings us together, I guess, in a way, y’know?”

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