The Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials have taken place in early May each year since 1992 – until last year! Determined not to miss another event, the Committee decided there must be a way to make them happen. In a normal year, Putley Parish Hall would be full of cidermakers jostling with each other to judge their anonymous entries but in 2021 this wasn’t going to be possible. So the Trials were delayed to July and volunteers recruited to run them under ‘hospitality’ rules, outside and with a reduced number of entries. The event took place on Saturday 17th July in bright sunshine in the lovely surroundings of Dragon Orchard, Putley, by kind invitation of Norman and Annie Stanier.
The results of the original peer-judge competition were announced the following morning, to a gathering of entrants, volunteers and the Big Apple Committee and live-streamed online to those unable to be there. Chairman Steve Swaithes thanked David Hewitt – the man behind the camera – for all his work in devising the online system to manage entries and scores. Ragged Stone Cider was crowned Champion Cidermaker, while Dave and Fiona Matthews of Bartestree Cider Company were presented with the trophy for Champion Perrymaker. Lucie Mayerova of Naked Orchards won Best Product in Show for her Draught Sweet Perry – it is just three years since Lucie first entered as a novice perrymaker!
Full results are available at:
The Big Apple is now looking forward to October, when it is hoped to run Harvestime events in and around Much Marcle over the weekend of 9th and 10th October.
The apples are coming in, the presses are at work, and it’s almost that time when the Big Apple has welcomed visitors to the Herefordshire parishes of the Marcle Ridge for the past thirty years. But, sadly, not in 2020. The event, which was scheduled for 10th and 11th October, has been cancelled. The community organisation behind the Big Apple had come up with a programme and a delivery plan designed to keep the event within COVID-19 secure guidelines, but the latest changes proved a step too far.
“We’ve been outrun by the virus”, said spokesman Jackie Denman.
“We’d like to thank the Public Health team at Herefordshire Council for their advice and support – they really tried to help us make it happen. In the end, the decision to cancel was our own. The timing just wasn’t right.”
Messages of support followed the announcement late last week.
“Everyone agreed that we had made the right decision, but they also took the trouble to tell us that we would be much missed.”
This annual opportunity to enjoy the orchards in this special corner of Herefordshire, to see, hear and smell cider being made and to taste many different varieties of apples, local ciders, perries and apple juices has become an established part of the calendar for many people. Apple growers and cider makers depend heavily on events for sales of their produce, and almost all had already been cancelled.
“We tried so hard to keep the Big Apple going, especially because we were almost the only apple event in this part of the country that was still in this year’s calendar. We’ve put a special area on our website at https://www.bigapple.org.uk/harvestime2020/, with information about the local producers that would have been there, and some ways to get hold of their produce.”
Many familiar Big Apple venues are there, including Gregg’s Pit, Woodredding, Lyne Down, Pope’s Perry, Westons, Dragon Orchard and Jus Apple Juice.
The Big Apple has started to plan its events for 2021, including Blossomtime on 2nd/3rd May and Harvestime on 9/10th October.