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Fall into mid Michigan

By JANET SOWLE, Editor

Fall brings a fresh crispness to the air. Break out your favorite sweater and get ready for cider, apples and pumpkins. Whether you’re looking for an event for the entire family or something to scare you out of your shoes, mid Michigan offers something for everyone.

A fall sign greets visitors at The Fruitful Orchard in Gladwin. Photo by Janet Sowle

The Fruitful Orchard and Cider Mill, located just west of Gladwin on M-61, offers the best cider experience in mid MIchigan. Owners Dan Vannest and his wife Tracey are in their fourth year of running the mill. While they may have lost roughly 90 percent of their apple crop this year, unlike other mills, they have chosen not to buy apples from other orchards. The apple cider you buy at their mill is made with apples grown there.

“On Saturdays we also do hayrides and they’re a dollar. We start at 11 and go until 5,” Vannest said. “We’re normally always pressing cider on Saturdays.”

When the presses are running people can watch through the window to see how the cider is made. There are several tables with chairs where you can sit and enjoy your purchases. Treats made onsite include a variety of apple cider, pumpkin and buttermilk doughnuts. A wide variety of pies are also available and can be ordered in advance for Thanksgiving.

The Fruitful Orchard and Cider Mill is open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. through the day before Thanksgiving. For more information on the orchard and what apples are best for pies and more, click here.

The Mt. Pleasant Zonta Club is having a big year. It’s their 60th anniversary and their 25th Annual Applefest. The annual Applefest, this year at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch, features arts and craft vendors, apple desserts including the popular Zonta Apple Delight, kids’ games, apples, cider, fresh doughnuts and more.

“Applefest is always the first Saturday in October, making this year’s event Oct. 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” Karen Ranzenberger, Zonta member from Mt. Pleasant, said. “We’ll once again be hosting the event at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch and Country Farm Market, located at the corner of Broomfield and Summerton just east of Mt. Pleasant.”

Zonta members plan the event to be fun and family-oriented. The event is held outdoors on grass and mowed farm fields. There is no admission charge and there is free parking in mowed farm fields. Papa’s Pumpkin Patch is located at 3909 S. Summerton in Mt. Pleasant. For more information about Applefest, call (989) 309-0107.

A new event this year is the Clare Pumpkin 5K Run/Walk. The run begins at 9 a.m. on Oct. 20 with the walk beginning one minute later. The course includes the Pere Marquette Rail Trail and those who dress in costume have the opportunity to win Clare Cash that can be spent at local merchants. For more information on this event, click here.

Clare Main Street and Parks & Recreation have joined forces once again for Main Street Spook-Tacular. This year’s Halloween event also is being held Oct. 20. Ghouls and goblins are invited to paint pumpkins, take a hayride, search for skeletons, parade through town in a costume and more.

The event begins at 10 a.m. with the Kid’s Costume parade at noon. Line-up for the parade is at 11:45 a.m. outside the McEwan Street Subway. Skeleton Search forms will be available during the event and at Pere Marquette District Library until 1 p.m. Forms returned to the library before 1:30 p.m. will be entered into a drawing. Trunk or treat will be held in the Fifth Street parking lot (near the library). Families, teams, groups, businesses and more will decorate their trunks or back of their vehicles to hand out treats. Those interested in handing out treats need to reserve a space in advance by contacting Lori Schuh at (989) 386-9190 or email lschuh@cityofclare.org. All events are free and open to the public.

For those who like to be scared, prepare to enter the trails in the deep dark forest of MMCC’s Harrison Campus, that is, if you dare. MMCC’s Haunted Trail will be from 6-11 p.m. on Oct. 19, 20, 26, 27 and 31. Cost will be $7 per person and $5 for children age 12 and under. There will be child-friendly activities in the cafeteria. An adult must remain with children in the cafeteria if you do not choose to take them on the trail. It will be scary. For more information on this event, contact Tammy Alvaro at (989) 386-6634 or talvaro@midmich.edu.

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