Applefest will support the West Tisbury Library expansion

The picture of health, bursting with flavor and juice, these apples are about to become cider. — Photo by Sara Magnuson Dexter

This Saturday afternoon, the first-ever Applefest will be held at the Grange in West Tisbury.

Organized by the West Tisbury Library Events Committee, Applefest will feature cider-pressing, scarecrow-making, a pie walk, a family movie — a whole lot of fun activities. There will be local foods, library merchandise, and a raffle.

In a community where fundraisers are common, it’s not easy to come up with a novel idea, but this doesn’t stop volunteers like Sara Magnuson Dexter. “We wanted to create a buzz about the library, remind people of what a community effort it is. Keep it local, warm, and fun.” Sara could be talking about the library itself, the hub of the town to many West Tisbury residents, but in fact she’s talking about raising money for the West Tisbury Library’s Expansion and Renovation Project. All proceeds from Applefest will go to the project.

“The events committee was sitting around talking about the fall and what we should do,” Sara said last week on her parents’ porch, sitting with her mother and father, Eric and Debbie Magnuson, and her aunt, Linda Hearn. “I said, we should do something big. Perhaps I could persuade my dad to bring over the cider press.” The Magnusons created and operate Tiasquin Orchard on State Road less than a mile up-Island from the Grange. Sara works full-time at Educomp, and she is also an events and wedding planner. A lifelong West Tisbury resident, she has volunteered for many Island nonprofits, none more important to her than her town library.

Once Sara got the green light from her father, things started rolling. She returned to the Library Events Committee with the idea of Applefest and everyone was enthusiastic. Lynne Whiting suggested a pie walk, and library director Beth Kramer offered to bake some pies. In no time a rough plan emerged, along with a list of people to call and ask for help. Dan Waters agreed to make a poster, and Chris Decker volunteered to do the printing.

Everyone involved in the effort to raise money for the West Tisbury Library Expansion and Renovation Project is a volunteer. “Volunteers have done it all and we’re half way there,” said Linda Hearn, chairman of the library trustees. “The foundation is only a year and half old. People are new at it, but they’ve done a really good job.” Most of the volunteers are West Tisbury residents, but people from across the Island are pitching in too, reflecting the library’s broad appeal.

Applefest will begin at 3 o’clock with scarecrow making and cider pressing with apples donated from Tiasquin Orchard. Pony rides will be offered from 4 to 5 pm and at 5 there will be a showing of the film, “The Apple Dumpling Gang.” Throughout the afternoon ongoing activities will include arts and crafts projects, face painting, and a pie walk. While cider tasting and admission are free, tickets for the various activities will be sold at the event.

There will be a merchandise table, and an ongoing raffle for gift baskets and an afghan made and donated by the West Tisbury Library’s Monday Night knitting group.

West Tisbury events always include good food and Applefest will be no exception. Dee Smith’s Savory Pies will be sold by the slice and a bake sale table manned by Sara’s mother, Debbie, will offer plenty of homemade goodies. Debbie promises to bring some of her famous sour cream apple cakes and apple pies. “I never make just one,” she said.

Talking about Applefest, Sara is quick to point out the work of others. Among them are neighbor Linda Alley, who is making and donating apple jelly; Racheal Neville, a friend from school, is providing the pony rides; Dan Waters not only made the poster but has donated cards; and Beth Kramer is making bread.

But Applefest would not be possible without the contributions of the Magnuson family. From her parents, Sara learned early that a can-do attitude, a willingness to work hard, and a strong community can make big things happen. She watched Debbie and Eric Magnuson plant four or five apple trees each year, prune and care for them. Now Tiasquin Orchard has more than 100 apple trees.

“I was looking for a hobby to keep me busy in my later years,” Eric said, gesturing to the bags of apples covering the tables of his porch and the stands of trees beyond in the background. “It grew into this.”

Linda Hearn, his sister, added, “Now your later years are really busy!”

Eric said that he became curious after seeing Paul Jackson’s apple tree in Edgartown. He got a book from Donny Mills of North Tisbury on apple science and took off from there.

In a similar way, the West Tisbury Library Expansion and Renovation Project started small but is steadily growing. To date more than 400 people have donated to the cause, with gifts ranging from a handful of change a child brought in to a check for $300,000 from an anonymous donor. Support for the project is widespread and very enthusiastic, but there is still a long way to go to come up with half of the money needed to match the $2.98 million grant awarded to the project in July (the town is responsible for the other half). Every little bit helps.

Applefest organizers hope that lots of little bits will be added to the project’s coffers on Saturday afternoon. In return, attendees of all ages should find plenty of fun and games to celebrate the season and support the library. After all, said Linda Hearn, “We want to involve the community and have something children can really enjoy.” If you’d like to bake some pies or help in any way, call Beth Kramer at the library, 508-693-3366.

Applefest, Saturday, October 8, 3–6 pm, Grange Hall, State Road, West Tisbury. Rain or shine. Free admission.