Dive into strudel, doughnuts, fritters, cider and pies, all of the apple variety, when one of the longest running events on the North Shore of Long Island — Mill Neck Manor’s Apple Festival — returns for two days this weekend.
Since 1961, the School for the Deaf has used the event as an annual fundraiser where guests can pick out a pumpkin, eat a fresh grilled bratwurst or purchase apples from upstate orchards.
“We work hard in keeping the festival homey, not over done,” says Kelly Barbu, assistant director of development. “As advanced as we’ve come, we strive to maintain a wholesome feeling to it.” Director of development and communications Toula Ramey adds, “Over the years we’ve added a bit here and there, but we make sure to maintain the important pieces people feel nostalgic about.”
Those seeking freshly picked apples will have an abundance to choose from including McIntosh, Jonagold, Gala, Snapdragon, Fuji and the ever popular, Honeycrisp, all of which comes from Fino Farms upstate. Apples will be sold in half-bushel, peck and 5-pound bags.
Several apple pie eating contests are also scheduled to take place on each day where the winner is the first to finish an individual pie without using their hands.
“People really got into it and the event drew such a big crowd, we did four on each day,” says Barbu. “I think the kids had the most fun watching the grown-ups compete.”
Additionally, there will be an apple run where contestants must balance an apple on a spoon, walk a distance and then pass it to another party without dropping it.
FESTIVAL FUN & FOOD
At the bottom of the hill, the entertainment stage will host a rotation of acts ranging from deaf magician Steve Weiner and sign language classes to acoustic ‘60s-‘70s-‘80s covers from Time Passages and music from singer-songwriter Troy Ramey of “The Voice.” Additionally, author Tanya Linzalone will do a reading of her book, “A Spot Under the Sun” and a health care van offers free checkups and audiology testing.
Kids won’t be bored as inflatable rides, carnival games, sand art and giant Jenga are planned as well as a pumpkin patch where they can pick and decorate their own pumpkin.
“The pumpkin patch serves as a great photo-op with the Mill Neck Manor House as the backdrop,” says Ramey.
Shoppers can peruse the vendor market featuring handmade crafts from over 40 vendors plus deaf branded merchandise.
Come hungry because there will be plenty of fall treats to indulge in starting with savory snacks like grilled bratwursts, four types of empanadas, roasted corn plus sweets such as gourmet ice cream, cotton candy, churros and fudge.
Take home products for sale include McCutcheon’s jellies, jams and honey will be sold along with Karl Ehmer meats, Golden Age Cheese selections and fresh bread from Dortoni Bakery. Mill Neck Manor even has its own special batch craft beer, Mission True Pumpkin Brew, created by Oyster Bay Brewing Company in canned six packs.
“We sold out last year in a hot second,” says Ramey. “People were even asking us to ship it!”
The entire event is run by a dedicated crew of volunteers that come back year after year to donate their time and labor.
Heidi Hoehne, 50, of Bayville has been volunteering at Mill Neck Manor for the past 12 years and is looking forward to returning.
“There’s a strong sense of community working together for a special group of people,” she says. “When you buy those apples, you know the money is going to the greater good of the school.”
The Spampinato family of Bayville works at the grill together. Renato, who has been volunteering since he was in middle school, and his wife Sue have passed the legacy onto their three children Lauren, 21, Benjamin, 19 and Nicholas, 15.
“Mill Neck Manor is very near and dear to our hearts,” says Sue, 60. “We felt it was important to teach our children about giving and providing for others. It’s a tradition of helping.”
MILL NECK MANOR’S APPLE FESTIVAL
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Oct. 7-8, Mill Neck Manor, 40 Frost Mill Road, Mill Neck
INFO 516-922-4100, millneck.org
ADMISSION $20 per car