The biggest festival of the year up here is Apple Fest. It has been hailed as one of the “10 Best Fall Harvest Festivals in the Nation” by USA TODAY according to the Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau. A town of approximately 600 people does not often get the opportunity to boast, and the Bayfield Apple Festival allows them to puff their chests and tout, in a mild-mannered mid-western way, of course. Some of you may wonder why there isn’t a cheesecurd festival. The answer to these wonders, is that every festival in Wisconsin is really a cheesecurd festival. Except for Apple Fest! At least, I would imagine. Who knows, a cheese-filled apple actually sounds delicious.
So, Apple Fest is a big deal, but big deal, what does it have to do with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore? The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is closely tied with the businesses of Bayfield. Even the title of the Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau website says, “Bayfield and the Apostle Islands”. The Apostle Islands draws people in, particularly citizens of Minneapolis and St. Paul or Duluth, MN. These people come and stay in the Bayfield inns, eat Bayfield food, ride Bayfield cruises and rent Bayfield and surrounding area kayaks. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore therefore, prepares a float for the Apple Festival parade and staffs a booth where thousands of people visit and inquire about the islands and the National Park.
I have been assigned to assist planning for the Lakeshore’s role in the festival, and it is an exciting prospect. Acquiring volunteers for this park is challenging, but for this festival we will be enlisting the help of volunteers to design and construct this float. We could use the manpower of the parks service to develop the float, but we want a member of the community to boast about their work and stand proudly as they watch their project travel through the rolling hills of Bayfield with thousands of people cheering and clapping.
Both the celebration of the Centennial and the islands connection to Apple Orchards will be central themes, and we hope to also get neighboring booths and vendors involved in the celebration. Reaching out to them and asking to incorporate the centennial into their work could be vital promotion for the Park.
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is featured as only a fraction of Apple Festival. The festival is, after all, is the celebration of its apple orchard history, but the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is an integral part of the area. It is largely what draws people to the peninsula to experience the wilderness. So for us, connecting the Park to the area and communicating its significance is what we plan to achieve as we prepare for the festival.