CiderFest at the Historic Houses

Article by Eric Toll, GPA Amassador (Sept 29, 2017)

Autumn has arrived. The leaves are beginning to turn, and there is a certain crispness in the air which has not been present since the year before. No better way to welcome the autumn season than ‘CiderFest’ at the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park. The first of its kind, the event was hosted by Fairmount Park Conservancy who put together a very special mix of drinks, music, food and architecture; the combination of which was the perfect fall blend fit for a carefree Saturday afternoon.

Perhaps the most unique element of the festival was its location. That is, the festival was spread along Fairmont Park among six historic mansions including: Strawberry Mansion, Laurel Hill and Mount Pleasant among others. Patrons were allowed access to each mansion which contained very approachable guides whose knowledge of the former homes was a major compliment to the day.  The event also included free transportation to whisk any on goer to the next mansion.

The mansions did not only just include tours, each mansion provided a certain level of entertainment. Bluegrass bands such as ‘Man about a Horse’ or ‘The White Cheddar Boys’ provided certain venues with a rustic atmosphere. While at the Laurel Hill Mansion classically trained musicians showed off their very serious talents. Where venues lacked music, they made up with informative booths. This includes a tasty Apple Cider Press Demo by the Philadelphia Orchard Project and PA preferred, an organization committed to locally grown Pennsylvania products.

Finally, la pièce de résistance, the cider. Each vender was selling hard apple cider. While products were available for purchase, the venders were more than happy to provide as many free samples as one could drink. Eight venders were present: Frecon’s Cidery, Dressler Estate, Ploughman, Stone and Key Cellars, Haymaker Meadery, Hardball Cider, Wyndridge and Kurant.

Perhaps most interesting is the growing popularity of cider. Many of the venders I spoke to did not have cider until they started to produce it themselves. What has occurred is that many of these ciders are taking on their own traditions and bringing fresh perspectives to the industry. Speaking to one of the festival organizers, Meredith, she say that while cider is not the most common drink, Pennsylvania has seen an increased number of cideries over the past couple of years. Only you can taste this new taste.

Click here to view pictures of the event