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APPLE FEST PLUGS OUTPUT OF AREA

LOCKPORT -- The ninth year of Niagara's Apple Country Festival will bring ice cold cider, homemade crafts, fresh produce and what is supposed to be the world's largest cider barrel to the Niagara County Fairgrounds next weekend.

Buying local produce and American products is especially important right now, said Carol L. Murphy, chairwoman of the event. to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and next Sunday on fairgrounds at 4487 Lake Ave.

"I think the events of the last two weeks have shown us it's not a really good idea to pour your money into other countries," Murphy said, referring to American money used to purchase oil from foreign lands.

"If ever there was a time to recognize and promote those industries that are vital and important to our country, that time is now," she added. "It's enormously important that the customers go into the store and say, 'Hey, we want locally grown stuff.' "

This year the Eastern Niagara Chamber of Commerce has chosen Becker Farms of Gasport to be inducted into Niagara's Apple Hall of Fame. It is the fourth agricultural business to receive the honor.

The 340-acre farm, known for its Strawberry Extravaganza in the spring and Pumpkin Fiesta in the fall, has grown from a roadside market and pick-your-own produce operation to a huge orchard.

The farm also showcases such attractions as a Farm House Market, Cider Barn, La Cantina refreshment stand, Apple Barn, Pumpkin Barn and Picnic Pavilion.

Murphy said Mayer Brothers will offer free tastes of cider at the large cider barrel.

The festival also will include historical displays, crafts and demonstrations both days, indoors and out, Murphy said.

Coordinators will serve a chicken and biscuit dinner Saturday afternoon and a pancake breakfast at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Puppeteers from the Enchanted Theatre Puppets will put on 20- to 40-minute shows each hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. In addition, the Puppetry Troupe will present 15- to 20-minute shows every hour, Murphy said.

Also, "There is a stage with ongoing entertainment -- some music, dancing. There are also wandering musicians throughout the day. There is a general store and of course everyone is selling apples," said Murphy.

The entry fee for anyone over age 13 is $2.

e-mail: pkowalik@buffnews.com

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