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Apple growers remain optimistic despite cancellation

Local apple producers say you can’t keep a good grower down.
That attitude stays afloat despite cancellation of the 2004 Lincoln County Apple Festival.
“The festival is one of the biggest days of the year we have in the apple business, but we’ve had a lot of people come out here since it’s been canceled,” said apple grower Gary Davis.
When Hurricane Ivan threatened to bring flooding and tornadoes to the area, the Apple Festival board opted to cancel the event that was to be held Saturday, Sept. 18. As fate would have it, the hurricane changed its course. Saturday in Lincolnton was sunny and warm — perfect weather for driving to apple orchards for some.
“Saturday we were covered up,” Davis said. “We didn’t sell probably a third or a fourth of what we do at the festival, but I’m thankful the people came out here.”
Apple enthusiasts also flocked to Knob Creek Orchards Saturday.
“A lot of people said they didn’t get their apples at the Apple Festival so they came out and got them,” said Jeff Crotts, apple grower and business owner.
Crotts also suffered a loss from the cancellation of the event and agrees with the decision that was made.
“That was a fearful hurricane, and they prepared for the worst,” he said. “The good Lord spared us from the hurricane, but you get 60 miles from us, and it was just devastating.”
Crotts said his family was more upset about missing out on the fun of the festival than the revenue from it.
“The kids really lost out because the family enjoys going,” he said. “Family and friends go. It’s kind of like Fourth of July or a holiday for us to go over there and sell apples.”
Despite the loss of fun and funds, Crotts said business will carry on as usual.
Both Knob Creek Orchards and Davis and Son Orchard, located on N.C. 18, give tours to school children and church groups. Visitors learn about the seasonal fruit, take a ride through the orchards and bring home a bag of locally grown apples.
The business owners offer a variety of products in their roadside stores including ice cream, apple butter and apple-themed items.
This year the Davis’ will offer apple cider.
“We’re going to fire up the cider house, and we’ll sell it wholesale and retail.”
Selling cider in volume will be a first for the business. Though the endeavor was planned last year, getting the new project underway this year could boost sales at just the right time.
Crotts and Davis said they’re fortunate for the good weather and steady flow of customers so far.
“Our year has been great,” said Crotts. “Losing one day at the Apple Festival won’t reflect what happens to us throughout the season.”
Knob Creek Orchards is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Davis and Son Orchard is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Children toured the orchards at Knob Creek Wednesday afternoon. Though the Apple Festival was canceled, orchards in the area have had steady business. Sarah Grano / LTN Photoby Diane Turbyfill

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