Arts, Dining & Entertainment
October 4, 2017

Voted a “Top 10 Fall Event,” Belmont’s Cider Days sees traditional cider pressing and tasting with local apples

Voted a “Top 10 Fall Event,” Belmont’s Cider Days sees traditional cider pressing and tasting with local apples

Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 7-8—BELMONT—Cider Days is returning to Belmont Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7-8. Watch fresh cider being made on a century old press and then enjoy a cup of that cider (hot or cold) with home-baked apple pie or crisp topped with ice cream or Crowley Cheese. Come to Belmont and take it all in along with fall colors, fresh cider for sale by the gallon, food and crafts vendors, an antique chair auction and more. And check out the special wishing well. The event runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and 12-4 p.m. on Sunday.

Cider Days, sponsored by the Mount Holly Community Association (MHCA), is a Vermont Chamber of Commerce Top Ten Fall Event and has grown in popularity over the years. It builds on a community tradition of local residents bringing their apples to the green to be pressed by neighbors — originally on a hand-cranked press. It’s still a hands-on process, but the century-old press used today does have an engine. Apples are provided right from the trees at Brown’s Orchard in Poultney.

“Visitors will see cider made end to end,” said Penny Coldwell, who has worked the press since the early days. “Workers climb up to the top of the press and dump apples into the hopper, which is now stainless steel. Apples are mashed into a pulp and a worker down below opens a small door and mash falls down onto hemp cloth. It is smoothed out and then cloth is folded over the mash. The mash then is put into flats (made by a local furniture maker) and stacked up under the press.

When there are enough, the hopper is shut off and the hydraulic press is started. The press comes down slowly — up to 1,200 pounds pressure — and the cider comes out a drain and into a five-gallon bucket with a cheesecloth strainer. From the bucket, it goes into gallon jugs, ready for drinking.”

Coldwell and her crew handle more than 90 bushels of apples over the two days. But it’s not all apples and local artisans.

Visitors can also see a special viewing of photos taken around Mount Holly for the 2019 MHCA Calendar contest (and can purchase a 2018 calendar); get a personal Souper Kids bowl, each uniquely decorated by students at the Mount Holly Elementary School, who also make delicious soups to go in the bowls; or browse among hundreds of books at the library used book sale and the Mount Holly Museum, located next to the green.

“It’s a multi-generational event,” said Coldwell, who teaches at Mount Holly Elementary. “My kids just can’t wait to start working on Souper Bowls.”

On Saturday, stick around for a roast beef dinner, seatings at 5 and 6 ($12 for adults, $5 for children).

To get there, turn toward Belmont at the flashing light on Route 103 or turn at the Belmont sign from Route 155.

Courtesy of Rick Weintraub
A man dumps crates of apples into the century-old press to make fresh cider at the annual event held in Belmont.

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