Apple Festival and flea market draws thousands

Maeve Bishop, 9, and Lexi Moyer, 9, both of Phoenixville, pose as witches with handmade brooms from Country Brooms in Gilbertsville at the Hay Creek Apple Festival. Photo by Emily Thiel

The smells of baked apple desserts were abundant as visitors built scarecrows, painted pumpkins and enjoyed pony and hayrides at this year’s Hay Creek Apple Festival Oct. 12 and 13.

Cars were lining up along Route 10 near Joanna Furnace and vehicles were winding their way down the hill to the historic grounds. As the beautiful fall days unfolded after a week of dreary rain, the smell of an apple pancake breakfast was in the air.

This has been an annual event for more than 30 years. The array of events and distinctive foods draws adults and children alike.

Linda Ott, chairperson of the event for the last 20 years, said, “I can remember sitting in my parents’ home with people born in the 20s-40s as the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association vision was born in 1975.”

The Historical Association’s mission is to restore the entire complex and educate the community about the history of the area, Ott said. This includes the ongoing reconstruction of the area’s rich hay day of Iron making.

Ott added that this is an all-volunteer organization with the exception of Site Coordinator Mark Zern.

And how they brought that vision alive with pumpkin painting, pony and hay rides, the apple barrel express train ride pulled by a tractor, and family favorite scarecrow building. A selection of jeans, shirts, flannel pieces to create a silly face and head along with yarn for hair, scarfs, straw and a wooden cross for the underpinning was available.

Driving through Morgantown and the surrounding countryside one might see along with the pumpkins, witches and goblins a scarecrow perched amid the Halloween decorations. The children are very proud of their creations, some even giving them names.

A featured attraction was the annual baking contest, which attracts people from miles around. And as for food, the fall harvest foods included the yummy apple dishes, many dating back to early American times: apple dumplings, fritters, pies and crisp, apple pot pie, schnitz-un-knepp, apple sausage sandwiches, candy apples, hot mulled cider and fresh pressed cider.

People enjoy watching the making of the apple cider and vats of homemade soup. It is a step back into our American history.

All the buildings were open to the public, including the tech shop, the blower engine house, the casting house, the blacksmith shop, charcoal storage barn and the mule stable. Unfortunately, the original ironmaster’s mansion was torn down by Bethlehem Steel and only remnants remain, so that will be a major reconstruction project.

The next large event is Christmas at Joanna Dec. 6-8. Enjoy caroling, a roaring bon fire, crafts and a visit from The Belsnickle.

For more information visit www.haycreek.org.

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