Rotary plans October CiderFest to support scholarship fund

When Rex Stratton and Ron Irvine thought about designing a scholarship fundraiser with appeal, CiderFest quickly became the apple of their eyes. It will come to fruition Oct. 4.

Their first thought was another wine tasting, but it was dismissed in favor of a fresher alternative. The result is CiderFest, a daylong series of events sponsored by the Vashon Island Rotary Club in conjunction with the Vashon Island Growers Association (VIGA), the Vashon Fruit Club, Partners in Education (PIE) and the Vashon Winery.

Ron Weston, of the fruit club, was approached about doing a common event and the club, which was already intending to hold its Fall Fruit Festival on Oct. 4, agreed to move it from McMurray Middle School to the Village Green. A fruit show will start at 10 a.m. at the Green, with apple displays and apple juice pressings presented by the club.

VIGA is planning to have master gardeners available that Saturday at the Farmers’ Market on the Green from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to talk about planting trees, particularly fruit trees, and either have trees to sell or take orders for delivery later this fall.

A class, “How to Make Hard Cider,” will meet from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Green. The panel will be Bob Norton as moderator, Ron Irvine of Irvine’s Vintage Cider on Vashon, Drew Zimmerman of Red Barn Cider in Mount Vernon and Richard Anderson of Westcott Bay Cider on San Juan Island.

The seminar will be built around a number of suggesting readings, but the principal work is “Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider,” by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols. Proulx is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and it is a good book.

The class is sponsored by VIGA, the fruit club, Vashon College and the Northwest Cider Society.

A hard cider tasting, for adults only, will be at 3 p.m., when cideries will serve cider to the public at the covered area in the Village Green. Those purchasing $20 tickets will receive 10 scripts at the door and a glass from the cider master. Tasters will be asked to vote for their favorite top three ciders. The cider master will track votes and announce the winner in the evening.

Irvine, owner of Vashon Winery as well as founder and past president of the Northwest Cider Society, has contacted 11 cideries to participate in the tasting and expects each to bring two ciders.

“We’ll be offering the full range, from light to heavy,” he said. “This is a rare opportunity for people to taste an excellent variety of real ciders.”

Irvine, who has spent more than three decades in the wine business and eight years in the Cider Society, said cider has an alcohol content roughly half that of wine (as opposed to juice, which has no alcohol). He added that cider has become increasingly popular in recent years. Some of the special apples he uses in the winery’s “Irvine Vintage Cider” are grown on the Island by Bob Norton, retired professor of horticulture at Washington and a world-renowned expert on apples.

It sounds logical for PIE to do a pie-baking contest for this event to raise money for Vashon schools, so that’s also on the schedule.

One of Vashon’s favorite bands, Bob’s Your Uncle, will play from 3 to 5 p.m.

The grand finale of CiderFest will be a special, four-course fundraising dinner at The Hardware Store Restaurant from 7 to 9 p.m. that evening, which will feature various hard ciders. Only 40 spaces are available. Reservations may be made by contacting Stratton, Rotary’s fundraising chair, at 682-1496. Proceeds from this and the other CiderFest events will support Vashon Rotary’s scholarship fund.

CiderFest highlights a busy fall slate of activities for Vashon Rotary, which includes delivering firewood to people who need help with their home heating, repairing the stair decking at Charter House, donating a bench for the garden area and doing wall repair at Vashon Community Care Center, equipping school district defibrillators with new batteries and presenting dictionaries to all third-grade students at Chautauqua Elementary School and in the FamilyLink homeschool group.

— Islander Bob Booth is a communications and marketing consultant and a Rotarian.

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