Last Sunday morning started off with a thick layer of fog after a rosy dawn. That is usually good foreboding for a brilliant fall day here in the South Puget Sound region, and the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association couldn’t have wished for better. For it was hosting the Annual Apple Squeeze for the 46th time.
Lafayette Street was filling with merry participants already while vendors were still setting up their booths. Crates and crates of apples had already made it into huge wooden bins on the actual squeezing site behind the barber shop and “The Bair Drug & Hardware Store”. And the Steilacoom High School’s Anime and Key Club was busy setting up a seemingly infinite number of imaginative activities for the littlest of the Apple Squeeze visitors.
“We have a whole lot of vendors who have been returning for years now”, Marianne Bull recounts. She is the chair of this unique event that gets an entire town on its legs and attracts people from as far as the Northern and Southern state borders. “But without all the volunteers who have helped organizing, setting up, squeezing, holding down booths, and taking down everything an event like this wouldn’t work.
Indeed, there were active military members from JBLM as well as Boy Scout Troup # 71, the Girl Scout Troup 4526, the Kiwanis, the above-mentioned Anime and Key Clubs, students from Pioneer Middle School, and countless museum members who donated their time and enthusiasm to this bubbly festival. By the time the Apple Squeeze started, a long line from the Bair all the way to the Tribal Museum had formed – a good sign for the ever-increasing popularity of the event’s center-piece.
“Cosmos’ Dream” and “Country Dave and the Pickin’ Crew” performed on stage in front of the post office and attracted quite a crowd with their captivating songs. There was pony-riding for kids, and anybody who wanted to get a bit more of the vibe of the Town on the Sound could visit one of the museums. The Grave Concerns Association also held a table inside the museum building at the corner of Rainier and Main, inviting visitors to support their effort to identify graves in the Western State Hospital Cemetery up in Fort Steilacoom Park.
Of course, at the center of attention in Steilacoom were apples. Anybody who wanted to enjoy apple pie, cider floats, caramel apples, apple fritters, or apple butter eventually ended up in one or the other long line – quality draws. But you could also get your fill of savory foods at the Tribal Museum’s stand with their delicious fried bread, chili, and chowder or at one of the stands across from the tennis court.
Artisans presented glass and gem stone jewelry, beautiful clothing articles, or photography. Handcrafted soaps, pottery, hand-woven baskets, jams, honey, spices, dip mixes, floral arrangements – it was certainly helpful that there were two ATMs in a central parking lot where visitors were able to replenish their wallets.
The Steilacoom Museum’s Event Store booth presented not only seasonal decorations and a lot of other sought-after gift items. It also offered sturdy bags that already celebrate the Museum Association’s 50th anniversary, which is coming up in 2020. In a very timely fashion, the Steilacoom Garden Club had published their cook book “Roots of Steilacoom” – a best-seller on its day of appearance already! And, naturally, the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association’s very own calendar for 2020 was more than well in demand with impressive photos of the area taken by local photographers. If you missed buying yours yet, just come by the museum or some of the local businesses and get yours.
Happy and tired vendor faces marked another mild and sunny Apple Squeeze finish in Steilacoom. And as the sun was slowly sinking behind the Olympic mountains, Lafayette Street soon became the quiet thoroughfare again that it is of a usual Sunday evening.
You didn’t make it this year? Well, mark your calendar already for next year’s Steilacoom Apple Squeeze. It’s on the first Sunday of October. And it is definitely a red calendar day!