You would never guess from Sundays abundance that apples were in short supply this year.
An untimely freeze left many local trees almost fruitless, but organizers of the third annual Home Grown Apple Days Festival still managed to scrounge up 5,000 pounds of apples for the one-day event in Buckley Park.
Hermosa is our savior, said Darrin Parmenter, director and horticulture agent for the local Colorado State University Extension office.
Localized weather patterns were kinder to apples in the valley community north of town. A significant portion of the large pile at the center of Buckley on Sunday came from there.
As the event got under way, a fragrant cloud wafted over the park as four presses cranked nearly nonstop, extracting juice by the gallon from the prodigious pile.
Some of the resulting cider was being sold fresh on site while the rest will be bottled or brewed into beer.
Proceeds from the sales go to next years festival.
The brew, called Insider Ale, will be available in upcoming months at various locations around town.
The objective of the festival is to nourish, entertain and educate people about possibilities around locally produced food.
In addition to the regular festival staples of food, music and beverages, the hundreds who attended the five-hour festival also could receive instruction in such areas as composting and beekeeping.
Another booth offered free samples of 10 varieties of apples grown at an Extension orchard in Yellow Jacket near Dove Creek.
Master gardener Adrienne Smith, who had to slice swiftly to keep up with demand, said growers are experimenting with different varieties to see how they do in the regions unforgiving high-altitude climate.
She gave high marks to the Swiss Gourmet, which was sweet, crisp and juicy. Her personal favorite, Royal Empire, wasnt available because of a limited supply.
Because of budgetary shortfalls, the city had to pull most of its support for the festival, so a coalition called Growing Partners of Southwest Colorado filled the gap.
Everybody else had to step up, Parmenter said. We dont want this to die.
Gabe Eggers was the lead organizer.
He said the apple is an amazing local food resource because of its abundance most years and litany of uses.
He said the Durango area already has gone a long way toward embracing local, sustainable food.
For Colorado, he said, were really on the cutting edge in the food systems movement.
He wants to see people become even more discriminating and informed in their food choices.
Know your farmer like your doctor, he said.
Mayor Michael Rendon, an original organizer of the event, said he is pleased to see it growing and thriving.
I love it, he said over the din of reggae music.