If it’s October, it must mean postseason baseball, Halloween and the Apple Affair, a gathering on the Steamboat Island Peninsula in which people get to taste and buy uncommon apple varieties from the Wenatchee Valley.
The apples are grown by longtime Wenatchee Valley orchardist Jack Feil, but are bought, transported and sold in Olympia by Mike Manos and his partners at Building Earth Farm. Sunday’s gathering at Rignall Hall was the 13th annual Apple Affair.
Twenty-six varieties were available for taste testing before purchase. As in previous years, visitors milled about, toothpicks in hand, spearing each plateful of slices that matched a corresponding box. If they liked what they tasted, they filled a brown paper sack with apples and moved on to the next box and another taste test.
If they were in the mood for something else, apple pie a la mode was being served at the back of the hall.
Some of the varieties on display were: Arkansas Black, Blushing Golden, Golden Russet, Nittany, Prairie Spy and York Imperial. Flavors were mild, tart or sweet, and most of them are specific to different places in the country or have origins in Europe.
Aaron Herbison of Olympia who learned about the Apple Affair from a family member, said he loves to drink wine. He thought the Calville Blanc or White Winter Pearmain apples would go nicely with a dry, white wine.
Jack Ziemke of Olympia said it was his third time tasting and buying apples at the affair. Ziemke, originally from northeast Ohio, said plenty of orchards in that state feature one variety: Red Delicious.
But at the Apple Affair?
“I hadn’t heard of any of them,” he said, adding that there are “too many that are too good.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
Ziemek bought 14 apples that he planned to eat as-is.
Asked if he planned to root for the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, Ziemek said, “Yes, I have to.”