A good pick: Afton Apple celebrates 25 years
When September comes around, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more telling sign of the season than the ubiquitous trip to the apple orchard (the Pumpkin Spice Latte might be a close second, but that’s a story for another day …). And as urbanites and suburbanites alike prep for their annual orchard outings, it seems that everyone has a favorite.
Afton Apple is one of the orchards in the Twin Cities Metro that’s gotten it right. Located a few miles north of Hastings, MN, the orchard celebrates its 25th season this year. Owners Frank and Cindy Femling purchased over 190 acres of unmaintained farmland in 1989, steadily transforming the property from a modest pick-your-own apple orchard to a well-known landmark that welcomes over 50,000 visitors during apple season.
You might think that such a large operation would give the orchard an overly commercial feel. Yet the Femlings have carefully maintained the orchard’s rural charm and down-home atmosphere. Top of the List staffer Audrey Flack discovered this firsthand when visiting the orchard with her family on a sunny September weekend. In addition to picking apples, her young sons took full advantage of the unique “retread hill,” petting zoo, and playground:
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Afton Apple held a weekend-long extravaganza in mid-September. The event featured the famous Dock Dogs, music, face painting, and a beer tent, in addition to giveaways and a 25 percent discount on pick-your-own apples. It also designed its 15-acre corn maze to commemorate the event. The design theme, “Ears to 25 Years,” incorporates an anniversary cake and even the faces of the Femlings themselves.
But perhaps the best way for visitors to celebrate Afton Apple’s milestone anniversary is in the traditional way: with delicious goodies freshly made from the orchard’s harvest!