We “picked” a great spot for this week’s Hittin’ the Town
The annual MacQueen Orchards Apple Butter Fest is the first weekend of October.
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - As we’ve entered the official start of fall, there’s a place in our backyard that’s on a lot of to-do lists. And the biggest event of the year at MacQueen Orchards is right around the corner.
MacQueen Orchards first took root in our community in 1936. Several generations of the family still work here today. It all started with Jeff MacQueen’s grandfather. “He started with five acres. He had hogs and cattle and put in a couple apple trees. He saw what they produced, and he got rid of the hogs and cattle and planted more apple trees,” Jeff said.
Those first trees eventually grew into a massive operation. Today, there are acres and acres of apples, more than 200 acres to be specific, and about a dozen acres of peaches. “We grow Gala, McIntosh, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious. There’s a new one out called the Ever Crisp, it comes out in late October, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Melrose, and Johna Gold,” Jeff said.
The process of picking the apples from the trees and getting them into consumers’ hands is involved.
“You can’t wait until everything is perfectly ripe because you’ll never get them all harvested. The window opens a tad, and we start,” Jeff said.
A big part of the work is pruning the trees. “We have a crew in December, and we go until July or the start of August we are trimming every tree. There is spraying, mowing, herbicide,” Jeff said.
And this was a very good year for the orchard. Jeff said the winter was great, which led to a good spring. “We didn’t have any spring frosts, and we had plenty of rain,” he added.
When it comes to trees, there are constant replacements.
“Every year, we’re taking down 3-4 acres. We cut them down on a rotation, and this year we planted about 3,500 trees,” Jeff said.
In addition to the on-site market and the u-pick orchards, the family also has a large wholesale operation. “We’ll run six days a week until May. We go from places like Florida and Illinois to Tennessee and Kentucky,” Jeff said.
Coming to the orchards is a time-honored tradition for a lot of people, especially as fall arrives.
“They grab a dozen donuts and a cider slushie and spend hours out there. We have people who come year after year for their family Christmas photos in the orchards,” Jeff said.
And this is a great place to unplug and enjoy your surroundings. Jeff said the orchard is a great place for ‘family fun’. “In today’s day and age, things are very hectic. Everybody is busy. It’s nice for families to come out and enjoy time together. Kids always remember that”.
The biggest event of the year is the Apple Butter Fest. The fest attracts thousands annually by offering food trucks, various rides, and several additional activities. The festival takes place October 1 and 2.
“The apple butter making, of course, the cider slushies pies, doughnuts, pick your own apples and pumpkins pony rides, barrel train rides, and a lot of music,” Jeff said.
Now, when it comes to the apple of Jeff’s eye, he says the selection is too good to limit his pickings.
“No, no, I like them all,” Jeff said when asked for his favorite.
For more information on the orchard or the upcoming festival, click here.
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