MADISON — Like a half dozen other families picking apples nearby, Randy and Jennifer Vernon came out to North Star Orchard on Sunday with their daughter Abigail as part of a family tradition.

“It’s something we’ve done as a family every year. And it’s something I’ve done since I was a little girl,” said Jennifer, while Abigail munched on an apple in front of her.

North Star Orchards was among more than 20 throughout the state that participated in Maine Apple Sunday, offering free samples, prizes and hay rides to those who came out for early apple pickings.

There are 84 farms that produce about one million bushels of apples each year on 2000 acres, according to the Maine State Pomological Society, which hosts the September event.

Randy Vernon said that while he could go to a grocery store to get apples, when he is at North Star Orchard, he knows that the fruit they’re eating came from Maine.

“It’s about supporting someone local,” he said.

Everett Dimock said this weekend his family’s 6,000 tree orchard had just opened up a line of rows in the back lot to the public for pick-your-own apples.

While Dimock directed visitors to the trees in the back of the orchard, his wife, Judy Dimock, greeted families at the orchard gate and other family members helped run the farm store, drive the tractor rides and serve samples of homemade apple pie topped with ice cream.

Inside the family farm store, three-year-old Landon Orff grabbed hold of the handle of a bag of apples and attempted to hoist it up.

His aunt, Nicole Vicente, said she came to pick apples with her three daughters as she does every year, and tonight they will be making caramel candy apples, according to their tradition.

“We’ve been coming every year since they were little,” she said.

In the row behind where Everett Dimock stood greeting visitors, Stephanie and Gary Cobb gathered a peck of apples from the low hanging branches.

Stephanie Cobb said when she was little, she used to go every year to pick apples but hadn’t been to the orchard for several years.

While the couple could buy the apples in a grocery story, Stephanie said they preferred going to the orchard because it was more of a recreational activity than a grocery trip.

“I think it makes the apples taste better when you get to pick them yourself,” she said.

With a cool 60 degree day as a reminder that summer was fading away, the two agreed they wanted to enjoy the outdoors before the cold hits.

“Winter’s coming so we want to get out while we can,” she said.

 

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

 

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