Time and talents needed for 2012 Hilton Apple Fest

By on January 29, 2012

by Maggie Fitzgibbon

The Hilton Apple Fest Board of Directors has issued an invitation for new volunteers to help plan and execute the annual fall festival. An open house for those interested is set for February 4 (see article for specifics). Shown at a recent meeting (from top left) Joe Lee, Chris Young, Jill Tobin (guest), Rick Bjornholm, Kathy Bjornholm, Faye Cole, Jim Sage, Ginny Kidwell, Linda Viney, Kristine Watson (guest). Photograph provided by Matt Ulakovic.For the last 31 years, the Hilton community has celebrated the autumn season with a festival called the Hilton Apple Fest. This year, the weekend event is planned for September 29 and 30 and the 2012 Board of Directors hopes to attract record crowds as well as a new crop of volunteers.

As one of the area’s largest festivals, the Hilton Apple Fest offers a host of events and activities bound to please all who venture to this small village located near the shores of Lake Ontario. While this event takes place over the course of two days, what many do not know is that the planning of this weekend fest takes the time and efforts of dedicated board members and a slew of volunteers.

Faye Cole has volunteered for the Hilton Apple Fest for 25 years. As in the case with many groups, she’s seen the festival evolve and grow.

“When I first volunteered with the Apple Fest, it was a group of friends putting together an event like a block party. Now the Apple Fest has grown into a big business,” she explained.

The Apple Fest attracts approximately 70,000 people over the course of two days. This event showcases about 200 craft booths, and 25 area non-profit organizations that sell a long list of food items. This weekend fest gives these food vendors the opportunity to raise funds to support their community work. Many local organizations are also on hand to demonstrate how their services help the community.

During her 25 years, Cole has seen the Fest grow, and she has served in a variety of capacities. She’s donned animal characters, chaired and co-chaired the board, helped kids search for prizes at Corey’s Apple Pond, served on the Hilton Apple Fest Board, chaired the 25th anniversary committee, and served on the 30th anniversary committee. But it’s the Apple Pie Contest that Cole is most proud of.

“I did some research on how the Naples Grape Fest offered their grape pie contest and presented the idea of an apple pie contest to the Hilton Apple Fest board and now 20 years later, the Apple Pie Contest is still a popular competition,” Cole said.

The Apple Pie Contest will continue as part of the festival but Cole has decided to step down from the board.

“It’s time,” she said. She has many other volunteer commitments that she will continue but she encourages others to give their time and talents to the Hilton Apple Fest.

“There’s always a need for volunteers, and many different jobs to get accomplished. It’s a great way to meet new friends,” Cole added.

In an effort to attract new members and volunteers, the Hilton Apple Fest board will host an open house/meet and greet on Saturday, February 4 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Hilton Apple Fest office located at the Hilton Community Center at 59 Henry Street in the village of Hilton.

According to board member Matt Ulakovic, “This open house is an opportunity for those interested in helping the Apple Fest in even the smallest ways, to come and meet some of the board members, and hopefully other interested volunteers from the community. We will provide information as to what areas the help is most needed, as well as answer any questions or concerns. All are welcome to join us,” Ulakovic said.

Rick and Kathy Bjornholm became involved with the Hilton Apple Fest in 1993 and have served on the board for 18 years. Like Cole, the Bjornholms have worn many hats while giving their time to the Hilton Apple Fest.

“I’ve made the five-foot (wide pans of) apple crisp, chaired the food groups and apple growers committees, served on the 25th Hilton Apple Fest anniversary committee and also was the Hilton Apple Fest chairperson for three years,” Rick explained. “I believe that the Apple Fest is a great community organization, one of the few community festivals totally run by volunteers. I think that members of a community should take a few hours each year to help their neighbors, and I believe that the Apple Fest is a wonderful way to help many different people and have a great time doing that,” he added.

Joe Lee is the mayor of Hilton and a long-time Apple Fest board member. He’s been involved for 12 years and he encourages others to volunteer. “Anyone can come to the monthly board meeting and find out what the Apple Fest is all about and see how they can become involved. There’s so much to do, a million things you get involved with. Some as simple as giving a few hours to help with the event set up or volunteer at Corey’s Apple Pond or help organize an event or the entertainment,” Lee said. “Many hands make light work,” he added.