“Don’t worry,” Walter Dyer told onlookers. “I’ve been doing this 20 years and I’ve never been stung.”
He continued about his work, smiling pleasantly while he explained “making cider the old-fashioned way” Saturday at Hancock Canal Apple Days at Widmeyer Park.
“You put the apples in one end, grind ’em up and put ’em under the press. Cider comes out here and you put it in a jug,” he said. “As fast as we can make it, we sell it.”
Event chairman Larry Gerber Sr. said the Hancock Lions Club hosts the event to honor the town’s history with the C&O Canal and apple orchards.
“The orchards were gone long ago, but we kept the name and the tradition,” Gerber said.
Highlights of the festival include a parade, about 40 food and craft vendors, live music and a prettiest baby contest.
Briana Swisher, 20, of Hancock, said she and her brother each placed in the contest when they were young. This year, Swisher entered her own baby, Amalea Marro, 5 months. Amalea won first place in the zero-to-6 months category.
In addition to the contest, Swisher said she enjoyed shopping at the festival.
“There is some really cool glass jewelry. Nice earrings and necklaces,” she said.
Terry Bishop of McConnellsburg, Pa., attended with a Civil War living history group.
“This is great,” Bishop said. “The craft sales are nice, and we have a lot of people coming down to the campsite to ask questions.”
Denise Borley of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said her children enjoyed ice cream and three different playgrounds at the park, while she liked the shopping.
“There are some nice knickknacks and a lot of fresh and home-cooked food,” she said.
Peggy and Bud Strong, 73 and 72, of Hancock, sat listening to the tunes of The New Connection Bluegrass Band. Peggy Strong said the couple moved to the area because one of their four children lived there. Now, their other children, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren, come to town for the old-fashioned, hometown feel of the event.
“This is really a family thing. You see everyone having a good time here, from infants and toddlers to teen and adults,” she said. “This kind of thing is what Hancock is about. I’ve been here 10 years and I would never move back to the city.”
Gerber said the event is not a fundraiser, but that the Lions Club typically “breaks even.”
“This is strictly a service to the community,” he said. “Everybody in the area gets a chance to focus on what they do best, to come out and sell their wares and to have fun.”