ITHACA (WBNG) — More than three months after the Downtown Ithaca Alliance announced the cancellation of their wildly popular Applefest, a scaled down version of the festival kicked off Monday afternoon.
This years version is called ‘Apple Festive’ and it’s a combination of what organizers call a ‘micro farmers market’ and a apple themed passport trail featuring special promotions at local restaurants and businesses.
Scott Rougeau is the special events coordinator for the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. He says once the reopening process began in New York, the Alliance and the city saw an opening to hold a smaller event in the spirit of the traditional festival.
“The city of Ithaca and the health department decided a farmers market would bring the festival back to it’s roots it is about the changing of the seasons and the crops while not bringing too many people downtown at one time,” he says.
The goal he says was to provide that fall experience while also providing an opportunity for local farmers and business owners to recover losses stemming from the pandemic.
The Farmer’s Market opened at noon Monday on the Bank Alley section of the Ithaca Commons.
Chris Aman owns CreamCycle hand-churned ice cream in Hamilton, NY. She typically comes to the market to sell ice cream and says it’s the biggest event she works each year, but the pandemic changed that. In March, she transitioned to making hand sanitizer and hand sewn masks.
“They asked me if I would be interested in coming to this but I haven’t been making Ice Cream this year so I was like ‘that’s not something I’m going to do’ and they were like ‘well come with your masks and hand sanitizer.”
Robert Grannis owns Robby’s Produce in Apalachin. He says the pandemic has made things tough for his business this year, with some days being better than others.
Grannis says he comes to Applefest every year, and it’s always been a good festival for his business. When festival organizers reached out to him he said he was happy to make the trip.
“They contacted us and I just wanted to support it, I’m not far just 45 minutes away so I figured it would be no problem for us to get here,” he said.
With just 4-6 vendors participating each day, he says the smaller scale will certainly hurt business, but he hopes people will still come out and have a good time.
“Normally people are flocking to us and waiting for us to get set up but a lot of people aren’t coming out,” he said.
Alan Teeter owns AJ Teeter Farms in the Town of Enfield and says he predicts that with less people wanting to shop at supermarkets due to the pandemic, more people will come down.
“Since people are staying home, and having bigger gardens, cooking more and buying local produce,” he said. “I think the people coming down now are coming to buy our products during the regular festival I think they come down as much for the entertainment as anything else.”
Marks on the ground throughout the commons remind visitors to practice social distancing and masks are required.
The micro farmers market runs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day while select shops and restaurants will be offering apple, fall, or cider themed menus and goods for sale. You can find a full guide to all of the activities and promotions by clicking here.