Hundreds of cider customers crammed into Steilacoom’s downtown area this past Sunday. The town’s Lafayette Street resembled the Fourth of July—only this time there wasn’t any Parade.
Most out-of-town visitors came in search of freshly pressed cider, apple pie, apple butter; even Apple Crate labels—and just a general good time on a perfect blue-sky, tinted with puffs of white clouds, autumn afternoon.
More than two-dozen cider presses operated between 10 and 4 p.m., with presses operated by folks such as Troop 71 Boy Scouts, and Tom Teeven and Milt Davidson (their press has been used since 1973—according to the metal plate that’s fastened to the top of the press.)
Visitors meandered downtown Steilacoom where they shopped at the Tribal Museum’s fry bread/popcorn stand, passed the red and green apple variety identification booth, before queuing for slices of bread spread with dark apple butter, and to schedule a time on one of the presses.
They bought hot dogs, corn on the cob, fresh fall floral bouquets, glass jars of translucent amber-colored honey, ice cream floats, taffy apples and sat at the soda fountain in the 1895 Bair Bistro. They heard down-home-style music performed at the post office bandstand. Finally, they flocked to Town Hall to circle round tables, while enjoying apple pie alamode, was topped with warm, sweet cinnamon sauce. On the way out of the historic hall, lined with photos of Steilacoom’s early years, they paused to watch spinners and weavers at work, and to browse the selection of vintage apple crate labels.
At 4 p.m., they hoisted heavy cider jugs and trekked to their vehicles before heading home to savor their autumn nectar.
Back at Town Hall, Steilacoom High School Key Clubbers assisted with the breakdown—and Mayor Ron Lucas was spotted wheeling a stack of chairs back into storage.
By 6 p.m. the downtown scene was “back to normal.”
According to town lore, the earliest pressing was held in 1915—100 years ago—a community event that featured produce grown in town gardens, to raise funds to purchase audio/visual equipment for Steilacoom School. The Squeeze is one of the Town on the Sound’s annual fundraising activities.