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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Ruthven Apple Festival continues to support CLEC

by Kyle Reid

The annual Ruthven Apple Festival kicked off with a sweet crunch over the weekend.

Now in its 39th year, the festival has become a huge event where families can take a day to enjoy some entertainment, buy local handcrafted goods, and indulge in delicious snacks, all while supporting the festival’s beneficiary, Community Living Essex County.

The usual selection of family activities and games, plus the almost 100 local vendors hawking their wares, attracted quite the crowd to the festival grounds, located at Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens.

Most importantly, event beneficiary, Community Living Essex County, took a major step towards exceeding the milestone of over $1 million raised through the annual-end-of-summer festival.

The Ruthven Apple Festival has been a key fundraising event for Community Living Essex County for decades. The wide-variety of family activities and markets has caused the event to grow significantly each year.

“Over the years, the festival has become a much-anticipated community event, bringing young and old together,” Manager of Community Relations and Resource Development with Community Living Essex County, Tony DeSantis, said.

Funds raised during the festival will primarily go towards funding accessibility transportation for the organization, like the purchase and maintenance of accessible vehicles. Community Living Essex County supports more than 650 local individuals with intellectual disabilities, in addition to their families.

During the opening ceremonies, DeSantis noted the event would likely push the organization over the mark of $1 million raised through the festival. Last year’s festival raised $75,000 for the organization, putting the grand total at $985,000.

The highlight of the festival kick-off was the apple peeling contest. This year, Robert Tomek, President of the Board of Directors for Community Living for Essex County, dethroned defending champion, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, in a close effort, which many thought the Essex Mayor had initially won before the peels were measured.

After the opening ceremonies, non-stop live music entertained people while they shopped among the large attraction of vendors and took their children to some of the featured attractions and rides.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey thanked all of those who attended the festival and the volunteers who helped to organize the event.

“That is what our community is best at-helping one another,” Ramsey said.

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