Signs of fall are everywhere as the weather starts to cool, the leaves begin to turn and our local apples are in harvest. In honor of these apple crops, Eric and I traveled up to Warwick, NY for the 20th annual Applefest. Held the first weekend in October, Applefest is an event that draws thousands of people a year. Warwick is located just 5 miles past the New Jersey/New York state line in Orange county (a little over an hour drive from Summit, NJ).
Sunday morning at 5:30 AM saw us in the car and on our way. Our initial plan had been to stop and photograph the sunrise, but it rained the whole drive up, only slowing to a mist as we entered town. This is a good example of how technical knowledge combined with the right tools can allow you to capture great images when the elements are not ideal for photographing. The weather at 6:30AM was damp and foggy as we hiked into the field in Warwick County Park, so tripods were a must for photographing in the low light.
After photographing in the park, we headed into town and stopped for breakfast at the Harvest Moon Cafe on Main Street. (An advantage of being in town so early was that we had our pick of parking spaces, later on in the day you’ll find yourselves having to really hunt for a space in one of the lots around town.) Our breakfast was great, but what made it such a wonderful stop was how friendly the people were. Our cameras resting on the counter top became a conversation piece, and more than one person went out of their way to give us suggestions of places they felt would provide some excellent photos (they even provided directions). I can not express how kind and welcoming we found the people in Warwick and especially at the Applefest.
The festival officially starts at 10AM, as all the vendors open their tents and the excitement begins. There was live entertainment throughout the town, with a couple hundred venders selling everything from paintings, jewelry and hand carved wood to pierogies and crab cakes…and of course apple everything!
No prepackaged commercial items are sold, so you can expect a great variety of local offerings mixed with nearby crafters. One local offering we will be coming back to explore are the wineries in and around Warwick. We tried some hard cider and wine at one of the booths representing a Warwick winery and were impressed.
When we were done walking through Applefest, we hopped in the car and headed about 5 minutes from downtown to Maskers Orchard. Here we spent the next few hours apple picking in the upper region of the orchard. A “pick-your-own” set up, admission and parking are free (so are any apples you eat right off the trees). You pay as you leave for your bag of apples (about $20 for a full bag approx. 20lb). Each bag (they hand them to you as you come in) shows an orchard map of where each type of apple can be found. Take your pick from 14 different types of apples (check their website for the ripening schedule) and take however many of each type as you like. You are welcome to eat apples right off the tree, but I would suggest you bring something to wash the apples, or a paring knife to remove the skin.
This was a great time; the farther back in the orchard you go the higher up you get, allowing you to look back on the valley and the mountains beyond. My suggestion would be that you park in a central location and then hike out to the apples you want (it is only dirt paths that wind up the orchard). The first tree of most rows is labeled to tell you what apple variety grow on those trees. Eric and I spent two hours apple picking and taking photos, and left with a bag full of apples and memory cards full of shots.
From the orchard we took a drive into the hamlet of Pine Island to see the black dirt farms. The farms are beautiful, and on your way through you can stop and pick up a bag of onions, the crop for which this area is know for. These black dirt farms grow a significant portion of the onions for the state of New York.
From Pine Island we doubled back to Wawayanda State Park just over the state border in New Jersey. This is a beautiful park with a lake to boat in and plenty of scenic photographs to be had. We ended our day by sitting at the lakeside enjoying what had turned out to be a beautiful fall day.