Wednesday, Oct 09 2013 02:25 PM

Tehachapi's core industry gets its due

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    By TehachapiAppleFestival.com

    The Tehachapi Apple Festival is a celebration of the tasty fruit that has long been a big crop in the area.

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BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor sdias@bakersfield.com

Well, how 'bout them apples? Tehachapi has never held an event solely devoted to celebrating one of its most well-known crops. But that streak ends this weekend with the Tehachapi Apple Festival.

Giving apples their due is only fitting, given their storied community history, said festival organizer David Brust.

Related Info

Tehachapi Apple Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Railroad Park, Tehachapi

Admission: Free; games $2 or $12 for all-day wristband

Information: 374-0395 or tehachapiapplefestival.com

"Apples were a big industry in Tehachapi in the earlier part of the 20th century. They had steam-driven engines. Trains stopped in Tehachapi for water. It became a natural loading spot for picking up apples, pears, potatoes, cattle. Tehachapi apples were going all over the western part of the United States."

Even today, many of the apples from Tehachapi are sold to Whole Foods and Southland farmers markets, Brust said.

But if you want those apples, there will be plenty on hand Saturday -- "Gala, Fuji, Macintosh, Granny Smith, a lot of varieties" -- from Pulford's Appletree Orchard and Moessner Farms of Tehachapi and Murray Family Farms, which provided cases of apples for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to sell.

Along with fresh fruit, vendors will sell other apple products, including butter, cider, pies, soda (Manzanita Sol, a Pepsi product) and even a beer.

"We'll have Honeycrisp Apple Wheat Shock Top," Brust said. "I've never had it before. It just came out this year ... The Tehachapi Rotaract, a young Rotary group for those 18 to 30, they're receiving a portion of proceeds from beer sales."

Although there will be beer, the festival is focused on families, with a carnival run by Tehachapi Boy Scout Troop 3.

"There will be four to six carnival games, like ring toss," Brust said. "There will be inflatables, four bounce houses. Whether they win or lose, they'll get prizes. I don't like when they don't win anything."

The carnival games are all ages as is the apple drop, at 4 p.m. The Tehachapi Lions is conducting a 50-50 drawing, selling tickets for $5 for the event.

"It's really cool," Brust said. "I think it will be one of the funner things at the event. They take the number of your ticket and put it on a stress ball that looks like an apple. They've got a target they're going to put in the middle of the street. They're going to raise a crane with a net with the balls. At 4 p.m., all the balls will fall. The closest to the center of the target wins."

If all the tickets sell, the winner stands to collect $2,500.

Spectators also can enjoy the pie-eating contest at 3 p.m. featuring representatives from Tehachapi's Rotary Club and Parks and Recreation Department, the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club, the high school's Robotics Club and Tehachapi Community Theatre.

Thomas Rockwell, who manages Trout's, will perform double duty Saturday, first competing in the contest then, around 4 p.m., taking over for Tehachapi band Denim as the musical act.

Brust said he's hoping for a good turnout.

"I'm hoping for about 5,000. I expect 2,000 to 5,000. If you look at the granddaddy of events -- the Tehachapi Mountain Festival -- that pulls in 30,000 for the weekend. We're not going to have anything near that."

With activities going on all day, Brust said Bakersfield residents can make a day trip to Tehachapi, hitting the festival as well as other local stops.

"There's wine tasting, the Norbertine monastery, Zen Buddhist temple, hiking trails, alpaca farms. I hear there is an ostrich ranch," he said, joking about Indian Point, which his uncle owns.

"It's an opportunity to enjoy Tehachapi. The trees are turning colors and we have beautiful trees in Tehachapi. ... It's only 45 minutes from downtown Bakersfield."

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