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Sunday, September 30, 2012
Julian Apple Days Festival
JULIAN-- Every fall, San Diegans trek
50-odd miles east to this mountain suburb. They are drawn by what seems to be an endless supply of apple pies, apple muffins,
apple fritters, apple doughnuts, and apple cider.
Julian overflows with everything apple-icious, except Julian apples.
may come as a shock to most visitors at the town’s 101st annual Apple Days Festival, the start of a cinnamon-scented
season that runs through Thanksgiving.
features antique tractors and gold-panning demonstrations, but the main
attraction is juicy, crisp fruit. Farms like Calico Ranch Orchards may
host 2,000 visitors a day, people paying for the thrill of plucking fruit from heavily-laden trees. Many of those same
tourists jam the local cafes for apple turnovers or mugs of cider, and on
hectic fall days, the Julian Pie Co. may sell almost 5,000 pies.
the apples baked into Julian desserts or poured into Julian mugs rarely
come from Julian orchards. Most come from Washington state, the San
Joaquin Valley and other far-off locales.
money in Julian is made on pies and restaurants and inns,” said Conrad
Young, Calico Ranch’s owner. “You can’t make money (growing) apples here
the Julian apple crop, like the typical Julian apple, is tiny, even in
good years. And if you take a stroll across Calico Ranch, you’ll notice
that this year is rotten. Young’s trees are almost bare of fruit,
thanks to an April frost that wiped out his crop. Some
local farmers fared better, some did not.
were open just one day and then we’re out of apples,” said Les Turner,
owner of Peacefield Orchard. “Many of the orchards just aren’t going to
This is bad news to
the growers, but a non-factor to the neighboring merchants selling
apple-based desserts and drinks. While Julian is San Diego’s foremost
apple-growing area, that’s not saying much.