CiderDays draws crowds for tasty tradition

The Recorder, November 4, 2018, by David McLellen

Ciders from Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont and all over Massachusetts kept locals, New Englanders, Californians and Englishmen warm in a packed Turners Falls tent Saturday.

It was the wrap-up event — a hard cider tasting — on the second day of the 24th annual CiderDays event, sponsored by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

According to organizer Lisa Davol, CiderDays has grown over the last two-and-a-half decades, and now includes demonstrations of cider making, apple cider vinegar making and other apple-based expositions. The weekend’s events across the county — New Salem, Shelburne, Greenfield, Deerfield and Ashfield — were a tremendous success, she said.

“One of the nice things about the event is it’s really communal,” Davol said.

Davol said that as the event has grown, it’s attracted cider makers from other states, and people from all over.

“It used to be that I knew everybody here, but now it’s like I dont know anyone,” she added cheerfully.

Apple growing and cider making are traditions in Franklin County, going back several hundred years — but, they are also traditions in many other countries, like France, Spain and England.

Franklin County keeps that tradition going, evident by the numerous local cider producers who participated in the weekend’s events: Bear Meadow Farm Cidery and Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield, Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Headwater Cider Company in Hawley, New Salem Preserves in Orchards, West County Cider and Wheel-View Farm in Shelburne.

According to Norm Hirschfeld, the event is a celebration of the area, which he called a “major producer” of apple products. It’s also grown significantly since he started volunteering several years ago.

Chris Joseph, who was pouring some cider from Carr’s Ciderhouse with Hirschfeld, said enjoyed being able to interact with people from around the country and world.

In his “Wild Apples,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “These apples have hung in the wind and frost and rain till they have absorbed the qualities of the weather or season, and thus are highly seasoned, and they pierce and sting and permeate us with their spirits.”

And, judging by the atmosphere surrounding the hundreds in Turners Falls Saturday, he seems to be right.

“It’s a mutual love. I love the cider, and it seems to love me, because it keeps calling me back,” said Steve Burkes, from Newcastle, England, who was visiting family and decided he wanted to taste some New England ciders with his brother.

Burkes said artisanal ciders, like the beers of local breweries, are all slightly different tasting, making it an adventure to try them.

“There’s a universality to it,” Burkes said. “We drink it in the U.K., and I guess it’s different, but then all these taste different. It’s a craft and a good drink too, usually.”

Reach David McLellan at or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.