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Local vendors bring their products to Applefest

Beadwork by Green Dragon Artist. Photo by Kyle Stewart.

During the first weekend in October, Ithacans swamped to the Commons to celebrate Ithaca’s 34th annual Apple Harvest Festival. Residents from town and the surrounding area, as well students from both Ithaca College and Cornell University waited in long lines for the fabled apple cider donuts, and sampled both hard and regular cider.

Slightly away from apple cider donut line, on the North Cayuga Street, local artisans and other vendors set up shop. From sheepskin, to various woodworks to homemade fudge, local and regional small businesses set up shop to attract the Ithacans.

Kimberly Preston from Corning, New York, makes stained glass in her business, Glass by Kimberly. She said she is originally from Ithaca, loves the town and always does well at Applefest.

“The people here are always very artist-orientated, and they appreciate the art, and they appreciate the glass,” she said. “I’ve been to other festivals, like Rochester and Binghamton, and I just didn’t do very well, people thought it was too expensive, didn’t see the point.”

A teacher, Preston runs her business in her spare time, and became interested in the work when she took an art class in college. She said she always enjoys returning to Ithaca.   

A little closer to the Commons, Dennis MacDonald sat in his booth for his business, High Point Crafts. MacDonald makes wooden brooms and walking sticks, and is based out of Lafayette, New York, about an hour from Ithaca. When asked why he’s at Applefest, MacDonald was very blunt.

“Make money,” he said. “This year’s been pretty good…. There’s a lot of people.”

More than 20 local farms sold apples, ciders and other seasonal goods, according to a press release from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. The event also featured more than 20 food vendors, including many local restaurants that set up shop outside their stores.

As for craft vendors, at least 70 vendors “from all over the community and the nation”  brought “a cornucopia of stunning handmade items” to the festival, according to the Alliance.

Another one of these vendors was Christy Nichols, who makes beadwork in her business, Green Dragon Artist. She makes everything from extensive bead fairies that take up to 500 hours to make, to small bracelets that take around 8. She finds the work very relaxing, and said the business really picked up on Sunday, the last day of the festival.

“It hadn’t been great until this morning, and then this morning things exploded. I might attribute it to Sunday-itis, this is the last day anyone can buy anything, so now they’re buying anything they do.

Christopher Mulno, a veteran from Canton, PA, started working in woodcrafts as businesses started dying down in his hometown, so he and some friends others started their own business, S+J Woodcrafts. The business takes rough cut wood and cuts it down to a finished product.

“I started out coming to make money, but now I come to meet the people, a good crowd comes through here,” he said.

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