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The Times
  • Cider festival harkens to ‘time before everyone got busy’

  • Time slows down at the Fly Creek Cider Festival.

    Sure, when you pull up to the Fly Creek Cider Mill cars battle for empty spots, and patrons flit between the parking lot and the mill with purchases and children in tow.

    But the festival itself moves at a slower pace.

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  • Time slows down at the Fly Creek Cider Festival.
    Sure, when you pull up to the Fly Creek Cider Mill cars battle for empty spots, and patrons flit between the parking lot and the mill with purchases and children in tow.
    But the festival itself moves at a slower pace.
    “You can just enjoy yourself here, like a time before everyone got busy,” said Brenda Michaels, president and co-owner of the mill, on Saturday.
    Perhaps it’s the antique nature of the mill, established in 1856. It could be the mill’s environment — nestled between a large field and a pond, surrounded by residential homes.
    Either way, the unhurried nature allows people to stop and smell the cider.
    When you first pull up to the mill during the festival, you notice the lines. Lines to get into the Mill Store Marketplace. Lines at the cash registers. Lines to get baked goods and hot cider. Products range from the mill’s renowned cider to apple wine to cheese and hand-picked apples.
    The lines, at least the ones for the store, exist because there is a capacity level the owners need to watch, said Bill Michaels, Brenda’s husband and the mill’s vice president and co-owner. There’s usually a 20-minute wait to get into the shop, but Bill Michaels said it’s worth it with the free cider tastings and fun facts about the mill lining the side of the store.
    Retailing is the biggest business the mill gets — in fact, it’s the only business, he said.
    “We rely exclusively on our retail business to run the mill,” he said.
    Then there’s the technology that works behind the scenes.
    Fly Creek Cider Mill prides itself on its 123-year-old water-powered cider press, and the festival is a way of showing patrons how it’s made. Chris Molloy, cider production leader, walks patrons through the rack-and-cloth routine that presses out 100 gallons of cider with one push of a hydraulic pump.
    “I thought it was cool,” said Ella Stier, 11, of New Paltz, who was visiting the mill with a friend.
    Also on display were centuries-old apple parers, collected by the last owner of the mill (and Bill Michael’s father), Charlie Michaels. Charlie Michaels is the president of the International Society of Apple Parer Enthusiasts, and allowed children and adults alike try out some of them.
    Bill Michaels on Saturday watched as some young visitors watched their hand-picked apples go through the parer, which cored and peeled the fruit.
    “That’s my favorite part, seeing those kids’ faces,” he said. “You can’t see that anywhere else.”

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