Southwest Apple Fest focuses on county's past as major fruit producer

Event will feature music, storytelling, activities and Fall Art Walk

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
The Hyde Exploring Company's fruit packers pose with the bounty of the season in this photo taken in 1900 and loaned to the Daily Times from the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park's collection. The packers worked for New York philanthropists Benjamin Talbot Babbitt Hyde and his brother, Fred Hyde, Jr.

FARMINGTON — Flo Trujillo looks around Farmington and sees all sorts of examples of how apples have left their mark on the area — everything from the Red Apple Transit bus service to downtown's Orchard Plaza.

"But today's generation may be wondering, 'Why so much apple stuff?'" said the president of the Northwest New Mexico Arts Council.

Trujillo's organization is presenting the inaugural Southwest Apple Fest, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 and Friday, Oct. 1 in downtown Farmington. The event is designed to honor the region's past, when San Juan County was covered in fruit orchards and apple production was its leading economic driver.

The festival is being produced in conjunction with the City of Farmington and the Farmington Main Street program, Trujillo said, after city officials expressed a desire for an event that capitalizes on the city's history. Bev and Tom Taylor, owner of downtown's Artifacts Gallery, came up with the notion for holding a festival centered on apples, Trujillo said, and the arts council has taken the idea and run with it.

The inaugural Southwest Apple Fest taking place this week in downtown Farmington is designed to honor the region's past when apple production helped drive the local economy.

The festival will feature live music, storytelling and an expanded Makers Market in Orchard Plaza. But it also will feature several apple-based activities, including an apple stamp art station, a photo station and a station where visitors will be able to select and peel an apple using a spiraling device to make a treat.

Several downtown restaurants, including the Chile Pod, TJ's Diner, the Three Rivers Brewery, the Olive Tree Mediterranean Grill and the Artifacts Gallery, will be offering apple-based menu items during the festival.

Trujillo also hopes to see a larger-than-normal turnout of vendors for the weekly Makers Market, including those offering apple turnovers and caramel apples.

Apple-based treats will be one of the attractions when the inaugural Southwest Apple Fest comes to downtown Farmington this week.

The festival is designed to become an annual event, and Trujillo said she hopes to combine it next year with the Farmington Chamber of Commerce's annual Chile in October-fest, which will take place this year on Saturday, Oct. 2 in Berg Park.

"We're starting small, but we hope to see it grow from here," she said.

Flo Trujillo

As a visual reminder of the area's agricultural past, Trujillo said many downtown businesses would be displaying historic photos of apple harvesting from the collection of the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park during the festival.

The event will conclude with the Fall Art Walk, which is scheduled for 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1 at participating galleries and businesses throughout the district. Dozens of businesses will take part, and the work of nearly 100 artists will be featured.

Throughout the festival, live music will be performed by Ian Rutter, the Shawn Arrington Blues Band and the San Juan Jazz Society.

Trujillo said two gifts baskets featuring items from downtown merchants will be given away during the Art Walk. Visitors can register for the giveaway at participating downtown businesses, and the drawings will be held on Facebook Live between 8 and 8:30 p.m. on Friday.

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Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription.