Alternative plans in place for Applefest

Every October, the town of Bayfield and surrounding communities are filled with tourists enjoying the vibrant autumn colors and all the activities, food and fun at the Apple Festival. It’s an annual rite of fall. 

The growing season has traditionally culminated with a three-day celebration of the region’s agricultural heritage, the Bayfield Apple Festival. Known locally as Applefest, the event has featured local foods, arts and crafts booths and live entertainment provided by the Blue Canvas Orchestra of Big Top Chautauqua.

It has been consistently rated as one of the top fall harvest festivals in the nation.

Unfortunately, this year, because of the pandemic, the event is cancelled. 

“After nearly 60 years, Apple Festival has become a strong part of the Bayfield experience . . . the decision to cancel was made for the safety of our community,” said David Eades, executive director of the Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau at the Chamber’s website. “Bayfield is resilient and I have no doubt that we will all work together to make 2021 the best Apple Festival ever.”

Eades added, “On the behalf of the entire community, this was a difficult decision, but the safety of Bayfield area residents, its employees, and visitors is the priority during the COVID-19 health crisis. Bayfield Apple Festival brings in up to 50,000 people in just three days. Bayfield’s population is 487. We cannot afford to gamble the health of our residents, employees and visitors.”

According to, “Bayfield Apple Festival typically brings in $8 to $10 million over the three days for the region. The Chamber, city, and merchants have been working on alternatives to still make some safe alternatives to Applefest. This year, the attitude is very much ‘safety first’ in Bayfield.” 

Rautio noted that this year, in place of all the festival events, they are doing a “Fruit Loop” tour of area orchards and fruit farms. Many of the orchards are planning scaled down events at their farms throughout October. 

For more information and “Fruit Loop” maps, people can call the Chamber number 715-779-3335, visit the Chamber website at bayfield.org  or stop by the Chamber office at 45 S. Broad Street in Bayfield.

Many of the orchards are offering “pick your own” options, in addition to pre-picked fruit. They plan to be open well into October for people who want to get out to enjoy a fall drive and still have some fun in the Bayfield area.

Hauser’s Superior View Farm is run by Ellen and Fritz Hauser and is open seven days a week. They plan to have food and some of their annual activities. Food and beverage offerings include cider tasting, apple pie sundaes, hot dogs, pulled pork brats, hot dogs, and caramel apples.

They are one of the larger farms and also have a historic barn to explore, hard cider house, Apfelhaus Cidery and the Log Cabin Antiques shop onsite.

Fritz Hauser said, “Bayfield’s orchards are still a great fall destination option even without Applefest. The fall colors make for a great drive, and many of the orchards have fun family activities, including pick your own apples. We have been busier than ever this summer. We do social distancing and masks for public safety.”

Visitors can also visit their Red Barn store which features farm and garden decor, supplies and salsas, sauces, baking mixes, and homemade jams, jellies and apple butter made from the fruits grown right onsite.

Call Hauser’s to inquire about the availability of pony rides and hay rides, food options and their hours and days of operation, at (715) 779-5409. Visit their website at superiorviewfarm.com

Erickson’s Orchards & Country Store is also excited about their opportunities for families this fall. Owner Fred Erickson says they will still have lots of food and goodies for visitors including their famous baked goods with their apple cider doughnuts, apple pie sticks, jams, jellies, marmalades, apple butter and more. They will also have a food truck on-site with a variety of options.

Erickson said, “We are having our best year ever so far. People are looking for things to do outside. We are hoping the weather holds out so we can continue through October with food and fun for families.”

“We have worked with Hauser’s on recommendations for safety including having lots of hand sanitizer available and planning for social distancing,” Erickson added.

He advises people to call for information about hayrides, the orchard maze, hours, etc. at (715) 913-0717. Visit their website at ericksonorchard.com 

For those who choose not to drive up to the orchards, people can order limited edition Applefest boxes from the Bayfield Foods Cooperative to be sent directly to their homes. Information and order forms are available at 

http://www.bayfieldfoods.org/store/p32/Applefest_Box.html.

The boxes are available to Minnesota and Wisconsin addresses and include:

5# of Bayfield apples – from Bayfield Apple Co. & Hauser’s Orchard

1/2 gallon of fresh-pressed apple cider – from Bayfield Apple Co.

1 jar of apple preserves – from Bayfield Apple Co.

1 apple pie or 4 caramel apples – from Bayfield Apple Co. (caramel apples) & Sweet Sailing (pies)

Applefest granola, oatmeal, or pancake mix – From Starlit Kitchen in Bayfield

Add-ins to the boxes at separate costs include:

Bodin Fisheries Smoked Fish  

Spirit Creek Farm Purple Kraut – from Cornucopia/Bayfield county

Ewe Lucky Ewe Spreadable Sheep Cheese from Happy Hollow Creamery in Bayfield

“While it’s difficult to imagine a year without Applefest, we know there’s more to Bayfield than this festival,” said Rautio. “I have been speaking to many of our downtown merchants and restaurant owners, and they say they have had a very busy summer and hope it will continue into fall.”

She added, “I look forward to showing people the genuine Bayfield. One without 50,000 people taking the focus from our Victorian-style homes, quaint B&Bs, and working art studios. We have some of the best food in the state, caught or picked fresh daily. Now people have more time to pick apples and see what Bayfield has to offer.”

The final economic impact on the region, without Applefest, will not be in until after the season is over. As with many communities and businesses, the final numbers on losses due to closings and cancellations caused by the pandemic is still yet to be determined for months and even years ahead.