The aroma of apple pies, apple butter, caramel apples and fresh-squeezed apple cider filled the air in downtown Hamilton Saturday, as thousands gathered for Apple Day, hosted by the Ravalli County Museum.
"It's just a great day," said Suzette Del Rae, one of many organizers of the event. "We have over 150 vendors this year, two food courts, and the weather is so much nicer than last year. It seemed like it was 10 below last year."
Volunteers baked 500 apple pies from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, with help from the Trapper Creek Job Corps. The Corvallis School District donated the use of their kitchen for baking the pies, and Del Rae said they were flying off the racks early Saturday.
"As soon as we rolled out the racks of pies, there were people lining up for them," she said. "We are down to our last few pies and it's not even noon yet."
As usual, Boy Scout leader Dave Rygmyr and local Boy Scout Troop No. 1976 were on hand to press apple cider for free, but they almost had a disaster.
"When we first showed up, there weren't any apples," Rygmyr explained. "Someone heard about it, and donated about 10 boxes of good apples. So this is especially delicious cider today."
Brandon Eldridge of the Trapper Creek Job Corps was busy stirring a large vat of bubbling apple cider in the middle of the crowd. Of course, he wore black clothes and a witch's hat to complete the image.
With live music, plenty of treats for kids, a raffle for prizes and all sorts of arts, crafts and food items, there was something for everybody.
"It really is one of the best events of the year in Hamilton," Del Rae said. "We really couldn't be happier with the turnout."
Reporter David Erickson can be reached at 363-3300 or email@example.com.