Hollis Apple Festival: Plain and simple

A few years back, when I was Apple Festival chair, I wrote an article about the festival stating that the first recorded Apple Festival was in 1965.

When the article was published, I received a phone call from the first Apple Festival chair (who wishes to remain anonymous) to tell me that I was wrong about the year. According to her, the first Apple Festival was in 1967. She said back then, "It was plain and simple!"

The idea to have this festival was to encourage more attendance for the fall Hollis Town Band concert by offering food. So it was decided to serve apple pie slices.

Back then, all of the apples were purchased from Brookdale Fruit Farm. Lull Farm didn’t exist yet. Adults and children came together to core, peel and slice the apples. It was discovered that it was better to have one person peel and another person slice to maintain quality control of the prepared apples.

Band member families were responsible for baking two pies each. However, some of the HTB members didn’t know how to make pie crust. So those who were experienced pie crust makers instructed those who weren’t. All pies were made in the individual homes.

As the festival grew, the committee decided to add apple crisp to its menu. The committee borrowed 9-by-13 baking pans from the school because the HTB didn’t own their own pans. The apple crisps were baked in the church kitchen. At some point they decided to offer applesauce cakes.

On the day of the first Apple Festival, it rained on and off. When it rained, the band and the food moved indoors, and when it stopped, they moved back outside. This happened several times that day.

Today, the Hollis Woman’s Club oversees the food part of the Apple Festival. The menu consists of apple crisp, apple pie slices and Doc Davis vanilla ice cream. There is a whole apple pie table and Lull Farm apple cider along with hot coffee and water.

Unlike their predecessors, HWC members receive the apples already cored, peeled and sliced, because we were making up to 80 pans of apple crisps, equivalent to 320 pounds of apples.

The Baking Committee meets the Friday before the festival at the Hollis Congregational Church Hardy Hall, where one group measures the apples and puts them in gallon-size zip bags. This is enough for one apple crisp.

While this is happening, another group is in the Hardy Hall kitchen measuring the crisp topping ingredients and blending them with mixers donated by HWC members using a flat blade to create the topping. Each blended topping is put into a quart-size zip bag.

The day before, the baking boxes had been delivered and the baking chair marked each box with the name of the baker and the number of pans to bake. As the measured apples and the prepared topping are readied, they then are placed in the baking boxes. The HWC purchased 9-by-13 pans and other equipment as needed.

Then the bakers arrive to take their baking boxes home to bake the next day. The bakers return the baked apple crisps to Hardy Hall on Sunday around 1 p.m., an hour before the festival starts. The HTB members are asked to bake two double-crust pies and deliver them to Hardy Hall before 1 p.m.

It isn’t quite so plain and simple anymore!

Now when the weather isn’t good, it is the HTB director who determines if we are to go indoors to our rain site, the middle school.

As in the past and now, everyone pulls together to make the Apple Festival the best ever, and we have a lot of fun, conversation and laughter.

The HTB and the HWC invite you all to our Hollis Apple Festival and Band Concert from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4.

In addition to the apple crisps, apple pie slices, whole pies, cider and Doc Davis ice cream, now we also offer face painting, children’s games and artists/vendors displaying their wares. There is a little bit of something for everyone.