WHEN: September 30, 2018
WHERE: Fulford Hall
TICKETS: Fulford Hall and outside the Ganges Tourist Information Centre

by Emma Sloan

On Sunday, September 30, Fulford Hall will host the 19th annual Salt Spring Island Apple Festival: an eight-hour, free-roam, volunteer-run love letter to the tradition of apple farming on the island. Hailed as “apple heaven” by its founder, Harry Burton, the festival holds the title of growing the most diverse apple varieties across all of Canada. At last year’s festival, over 344 types of apple—all grown organically on Salt Spring—were showcased.

Burton has grown apples on the island since 1960 and is the local Salt Spring farmer behind the festival. “It really is popular with the people who are apple lovers,” he says. “They can pick it right off the tree, where it comes from, and can really connect with the fruit.”

With tickets retailing at $10 per adult—students are $5 and children under five are free—the festival promotes love and appreciation for organic foods and farmers. “We like to get kids involved in the festival, and also wanted to make it really accessible for people,” says Burton.

whole and sliced pink delight apples on a board with the ocean in the background
Pink delight apples. Photo: Karen Mouat via SSI Apple Fest

This year’s festival will showcase 15 Salt Spring farms with over 189 varieties of apple pie, apple blossoms, dehydrated apple slices, and seedlings. Five local non-apple-oriented vendors will offer local cheeses, BBQ lunches, and wood-fired pizzas.

“The people are going to get fruit they can’t get in the stores that tastes better than they could ever get [there],” Burton says. “Super stores only want to give you seven varieties of apples; we grow about 500 varieties here. We’re one of the last vestiges of apple growers here in Canada, and it’s all the local farms that keep that apple community going.”

This year’s apple heaven will also shine a spotlight on Albert Etter (1872-1950), a “remarkable red-flesh apple breeder” who did his best apple breeding in Ettersburg, California in the 1930s. Etter moved to Salt Spring later in life and was renowned in the apple farming community for his technique.

“It’s a pretty amazing little festival,” says Burton. “Every farmer has their own specialty—some grow cider apples, some seedling apples, some only apples from before 1920. One person was growing only disease-resistant varieties. We really foster diversity on Salt Spring. It’s what we do best.” As happens annually, the entirety of the apple collection will be rewarded to the highest bidder on Monday, October 1.

For information on tickets and previous vendors and suppliers, visit: saltspringapplefestival.org

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