Sometimes there are happenings in our town that can only be described as … so Bloomington. Very twee meets hipster meets Leslie Knope from “Parks and Rec” — but also legitimately great.
That’s the best way I can preface Cider Fest, a little fundraiser that we went to recently for Bloomington’s community orchard. The deal was this: BYO mug and you’ll be treated to ridiculously fresh apple cider.
How fresh? The cider was made right there by people cranking apples through an old-timey apple press (this was was about 100 years old, I think). Here’s how it works: You throw in whole apples at the top of the machine, a grinder crushes them into pieces and spits them out into a bucket.
A wooden disk, when cranked down, presses out the juice into a metal pot on the ground.
The pot is hurried over to the fire pit to get warm.
And five minutes later, I ladled some into a mug. No spices or other distractions. Just crazy good pressed apples.
There was also bobbing for apples, apple baked goods (cider donuts, where have you been all my life?) and the adorable little band that is always entertaining kids at the farmers market (See the woman on the left? She makes tiny wooden, jointed animals dance on a plank, which I could watch for hours, for whatever reason.)
And that was Cider Fest. The apples didn’t actually come from the community orchard — the trees there are just babies at this point. The orchard is a public space and is run by volunteers and it’s fun to think that at some future Cider Fest, the dozens of trees there might produce the apples that fill the mugs.