Fruity fun at town's annual apple festival
WEATHER-BEATEN gard-eners queued to have their precious crops identified at Beverley Apple Fest.
There was, as ever, plenty of family entertainment at East Riding WI's 12th annual Apple Fest.
But for Beverley's allotment holders, fruit expert and guide book author Peter Blackburne-Maze was the star attraction.
Producing some of the biggest apples anyone present had ever seen, Queensgate plot holder Eric Johnson said: "For the early varieties it was too cold. On some trees there were no apples at all this year
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"But then the bees pollinated the later varieties and they've been fine."
Mr Blackburne-Maze barely had to study his guide a moment to identify Eric's gargantuan apples as northern variety Bramleys.
He said: "They're pretty impressive, these are the kinds of Bramleys often seen in the North but not in the South.
"People really seem to enjoy fruit they've grown themselves. Why should we eat these lumps of green soap from halfway around the world when we've such wonderful apples growing on the trees here."
Eric, 73, who worked for 50 years as a lorry driver, now loves nothing more than growing his own fruit and vegetables.
His wife, Sandra, 66, does the baking but admits not all the apples find their way into her pies. She said: "We have a lot of older ladies who live near us, so we give a lot away."
In the other tents, Beverley Apple Fest provided a wealth of home-made produce.
Cakes, cider, chutneys and jams, it was a mouthwatering spread.
Alongside all the food, community groups and craftsmen had stalls side by side, filled with handicrafts and pieces of artwork.
In the WI tent, all the talk was about the EC ruling that states preserves must not be sold in re-used jars.
Letters were sent out last week to all WI members, as well as to Church of England parishes, warning people about the regulations.
Anyone using old jars risks a fine of up to £5,000 or even jail.
The rules were, of course, all being obeyed, but many questioned the wisdom behind the regulation.
East Riding WI organiser Barbara Ball said: "I was told about the ruling this week, we all were.
"But have there been any cases of people being poisoned by reused jars?"
Using her new jars, Aldbrough WI member Hazel Armstrong, known as Mrs Chutney because of her skills, was almost over-run with customers.
Away from all the food, the festival was aimed squarely at families.
There is plenty of room to run around on the tranquil Millennium Orchard, created by WI volunteers 12 years ago at Beverley Parks.
Children enjoyed competitions, quizzes, face-painting and a bird of prey display. It was also a chance for youngsters to learn about how food is grown.
WI organiser Elaine Dyson, Chairman of the Millennium Orchard, said: "One year, a little girl asked me who had gone round all the trees sticking the apples on them.
"Some of the youngsters just don't realise."
Matthew and Ellie Anthony of Beverley High Road, Hull, were having a great time with their sons, Sam, 4, and Patrick, 2, at yesterday's Fest.
Matthew, 31, said: "We do plenty with the kids so they know where the food comes from."
Ellie, 30, said: "We wanted to come last year but the weather put us off.
"We've just done the witch's hat quiz, which was great. They're having a brilliant time, it's great to have them out in the open air."
An exhausted Mrs Dyson, who planned the event with help from East Riding Council, took in the sea of happy faces and said: "It's about countryside events and activities for the kiddies.
"The Apple Fest was originally mean to be a celebration of National Apple Day.
"It was a way of encouraging the local community to use this facility.
"A lot of people didn't know where it was.
"We've always had craft stalls but it's grown over the years.
"It's hard work but it's nice to see so many people enjoying themselves, especially the children."