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Cider season is in full swing. And Franklin County in western Massachusetts is one of the best places to experience it.
For the past couple decades, the region has hosted Franklin County CiderDays, a late autumn apple extravaganza, giving visitors the chance to combine the area’s sensational seasonal scenery with all kinds of enticing edibles and beverages.
This year’s CiderDays is certain to have all of that and then some, with the usual array of foodie gatherings complemented by some additional special events.
Hungry for a preview? Let’s dig in.
Photo: There’s more where this came from at CiderDays. Photo by Beth Reynolds
Franklin County CiderDays 2014 kicks off on the night of Halloween and runs for three days, spanning from October 31 to November 2 in total. This year’s celebration also happens to be the 20th anniversary for the event, which will only make the atmosphere more festive.
Over the course of the three days, attendees will be treated to more than 40 events, including hard and sweet cider tastings, orchard rides, cooking demonstrations, local food samplings and cider workshops. All of these events vary in size, price and the number of festivalgoers who can be accommodated, so check out the ticket options in advance, particularly for the larger happenings.
Photo: CiderDays at Scott Farm in Whately, MA
The opening party on Halloween is bound to be one of the marquee draws. Hosted by the Blue Heron Restaurant, one of the area’s many delectable eateries, this introductory reception in the town of Sunderland will feature a scrupulously selected offering of Massachusetts hard cider, as well as sweet and savory small plates. Deborah Snow, the Blue Heron’s executive chef and co-owner, will mastermind the food and beverage choices, assuring that all who stop by are in good hands.
On Saturday, there will be two 90-minute cider salons held across from the Shelburne Buckland Community Center, taking place from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. and from 5:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Tickets to each salon run $25 and are available here.
Pretty much everyone gets psyched for CiderDays in Franklin County. Photo by Beth Reynolds
Sunday will bring about its own trio of ticketed events, with a British Cider tasting, an Apples to Juice Cider tasting and a Cider and Cheese Pairing. These will all be hosted between noon and sundown in Historic Deerfield, a re-creation of 18th-century New England and a very cool attraction in its own right.
Photo: Dwight House in Historic Deerfield during autumn
Of course, in addition to these ticketed events, travelers are also encouraged to hop from farm to farm, where they’ll get to meet the folks who make CiderDays possible, see how everything is sourced and just maybe meet some new furry friends.
Alpacas enjoy CiderDays, too! Photo by Robin Bessert
The CiderDays festivities are more than enough to fill up an excellent weekend, but for those seeking even more, the Shelburne Falls Art Walk falls on the same weekend and is well worth a visit. Passersby can stroll the streets, relaxing in the midst of live music, community art projects and creative local demonstrations. Even better, Shelburne Falls is where several of the CiderDays events take place, so it won’t be a long trip, either.
You can find directions to a number of the Franklin County CiderDays events, as well as the general area, here. Additionally, the CiderDays website supplies a very handy guide to nearby lodgings, where festivalgoers will be well accommodated.
Which fall food or drink tops your personal list? Let us know below in the comments!
Photo at the top by Beth Reynolds