Steilacoom awoke early last Sunday. People were putting up tents and canopies. Trucks were rolling in and out. Lafayette Street was busy long before dawn. And when daylight finally came around, all was ready for the crowds to come.
For the 45th time the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association (SHMA) hosted the Steilacoom Apple Squeeze, an event that lures visitors from all over Western Washington into the quaint town on the Sound. “People have grown up with the Apple Squeeze,” organizer and chairwoman Marianne Bull said, “and this year, some of them came with their own stands.” Indeed, the festival that features everything apple-themed as well as artisans, local clubs, and local institutions has quite a waiting list for vendors who want to be part of it. “We have been waiting for years,” the owners of a booth for decorative signs were beaming. “We’ve finally made it!”
Even though for most of the day it was raining, visitors arrived in droves and enjoyed caramel apples, apple butter, apples and cheese, apple fritters, and apple pie. “We are Washingtonians,” was the common understanding. “Rain? We wouldn’t miss the Steilacoom Apple Squeeze for anything in the world!”
Dozens of volunteers ran the center piece of the event – the apple presses in the meadows next to the Bair Drug and Hard ware Store and the Barber Shop. Their tremendous effort, while standing in the rain and slushy grass, was proven by mounds and mounds of mash at the end of the afternoon and countless happy faces of those walking away with a gallon or two of freshly squeezed cider.
The enthusiasm spreads to the volunteers as well, by the way. More often than not you hear “Hope to work this with you next year again.” The team spirit amongst the Apple Squeeze volunteers is huge, be it amongst the SHMA members, the military support from nearby Joint Base Lewis McChord, scouts, Microsoft employees or other groups who come in regularly to make this event happen. “Of course, we could have done without the rain,” quite a few of them said. But in the end, the smiling faces of everybody participating made up for the lack of sunshine.