Steilacoom will celebrate the 36th Annual Apple Squeeze on Sunday, October 4, 2009, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in historic downtown on Lafayette Street at the Wilkes Street intersection and is a great event for all ages. A Steilacoom tradition since 1973, the event benefits the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association which maintains the historic Nathaniel Orr Pioneer Home Site (1857) and the Bair Drug & Hardware Store (1895). The Steilacoom squeeze was the first in the region and became a model for other communities to follow.
The Apple Squeeze features volunteers with hand-operated cider presses for pressing apples into cider the old fashioned way. A few of the volunteers have been involved since the first squeeze. Each year plaques are awarded to the pressmen to commemorate their participation in that year’s event and are attached to the presses. One can see at a glance how long that press has been at the Squeeze.
Washed apples from bins of Jonagolds, Galas, Red Delicious and others are combined and run through the presses for a delicious blend of flavors. Children and adults both love to turn the handles and see the golden flow of cider emerge. It’s an instant smile maker! The leftover apple mash goes back to the farm for horses and cows to munch – recycling in the best sense of the word. For those not inclined to squeeze the cider themselves, jugs of fresh award winning cider from Lattin’s Country Cider Mill in Olympia will also be sold.
Three bands will furnish toe-tapping music all day. Spot the Dog, (10-12) Kristi and Steve Nebel 9 12-2), and Alicia Healey with Lisa Mills (2-4) will play and sing at the post office steps at Wilkes and Lafayette Streets. Spot the Dog is a popular local group appearing often at the Olympia Farmer’s Market. They play acoustic, harmonic music that all ages will appreciate.
Americana duo, and peace activists, Steve and Kristi Nebel, recently returned from their sixth U.K. tour, are currently promoting their latest CD, “Raven Speaks”. This internationally touring duo has been performing together for seventeen years, recorded eight albums as a duo, and three albums as founding members of “The Madrones” and “The Filucies”. Singer/guitarist Steve Nebel is the primary songwriter in the duo, supported by vocals and bass guitar from Kristi Nebel.
Alicia Healey is a Seattle-based performing songwriter specializing in Americana, folk pop rock music. She writes and performs original songs as well as steals a song now and then. Alicia is a storyteller who taps into the significance of insignificant moments. Performing harmonica and vocals with her will be Lisa Mills.
In addition, quality handcraft booths and a variety of food booths will line Lafayette Street. Crafts will include woodworking, fabric art, vintage containers with plants, jewelry, fine arts and others. Many of the food booths relate to the apple with apple pie, hot apple butter on bread, caramel apples, hot spiced cider and apple fritters being on the day’s menu. Activities for children will include games, pumpkin walks, pumpkin painting and pony rides from noon to 4 p.m.
One of the most interesting booths on the street is the apple identification booth, manned by several local pomologists. Bring your unknown apple with leaves attached and they will help identify the variety and instruct the best way to grow and care for the tree. Steilacoom pioneer Nathaniel Orr learned orchard management in Oregon after traveling the Oregon Trail and before he came to Steilacoom. He was responsible for many orchards in the developing pioneer town and some of his trees survive in Steilacoom today making the apple connection to the history of this area very real.You can visit his pioneer orchard at the Orr Home Site at Main and Rainier Streets.
While this event is sponsored by and benefits the Museum, other community groups participate as well. The Steilacoom High School Key Club, a community service student group organizes the children’s games. Local Boy Scout Troop # runs a press and also works in the press area. Local school administrators work the apple bins, keeping the apples coming to the pressmen. volunteers from local businesses also lend a hand. The help from these groups makes this truly a community event.
While in town, look for the many unique scarecrows around Steilacoom competing for prizes. The scarecrows will be up through the month of October. Leaning against lamp posts or propped up on bales of hay, they provide a fitting ambiance for celebrating autumn in Steilacoom.