A French song “Le temps des cerises” speaks about the cherry season being the time of sweet insouciance lasting a very short period, like youth, like the season of their harvest. Next weekend, from 30th November to 2nd December, Young, a Victorian era doll’s town in New South Wales, 170 km North of Canberra, will host its 63rd Cherry festival. Pick up cherries in the orchards, eat cherries, smell cherries, for a whole weekend. The event rallies the community for this much delicate fruit. In Australia, the cherry harvest, which started mid-November and will end at Christmas, occurs in only a few places in the country, where weather conditions are suitable as trees need frost to build the fruit.
Ten cherry orchards and thousands of cherry trees in Young have built a name for the place. At Ballinaclash Orchard as in other places in Young, it will be the busiest weekend of the year. Cath Mullany, her husband Peter and their 6 children are all on duty. They grow 5000 trees on the property. “My husband’s father was the doctor in town and bought this land and planted the trees. Peter took it over for he wanted to become a farmer.” Cath was a teacher in Sydney, when she met her husband. “I fell in love with the man… “, she smiles. They used to sell at Sydney’s market, but now, the full production of cherries is sold on the property, through self-picking. Jams, cherry liqueur, wine. The family has widened the range of products sold in their shop on the property.
This year again, the rain has helped to have a good production and the recent sunny days have helped the fruits to mature. The producers have suffered many years of drought, which has been devastating for some of the producers. Now abundant rains have been also harmful. “In 2010 we have lost 80% of the production because fruits filled with water, and then burst”. Hopefully this year has been more merciful.
As well as the cherries the local economy has developed a range of farm products, goat’s milk and soap at Dunkell Goats, rum and whisky at Bluestill Distillery and Poppa’s fudge…
Poppas is Kevin Powderly’s nickname. After his retirement, this former electrician contractor became the fudge specialist. His wife Vicki wanted to open a gift and decoration gift shop. “As we were driving on the road, we missed a shop I wanted to visit to get ideas. Then we missed a chocolate shop again. But, that time, I said, let’s go back. At this moment I realised that you don’t stop for a gift shop, but you do for food!”, Vicki remembers. Therefore they started to develop a range of fudge to sell in the front part of their decoration shop, Poppas fudge and jam factory. “It was a huge success. We sold one and a half tons of fudge in ten days. That was 8 years ago. Now we are the biggest tourist attraction in town” Kevin uses the ingredients from the farm. The range of sweet treats has been developed since, and he also bakes cherry pies and prepares jams and chutneys. “We grow the cherries, strawberries , vegetables that we use. That is the secret.” And Vicki arranges the hampers.
2012 National Cherry Festival Program Highlights
· Friday 30 November 2012
× Live music and Big Air School Display: 6:15pm – 9:30pm
× Crowning of the 2012 Cherry Queen and Charity Queen: 9.00pm
× YLAD Living Soils Fireworks Display: 9:30pm
· Saturday 1 December 2012
× Young & Region Farmers Market: 8am – 12noon
× Market Stalls: 8am – 5pm
× Auto Pro Cherry Festival Car Show: 9am – 2pm
× Milo the Clown, Circus for Dummies Show: 11:30am – 12:15pm
× Wilders Bakery Cherry Pie Eating Competition: 2pm – 3:30pm
× Woolworths Cherry Festival Street Parade: 4pm – 5pm
× Hilltops Wine Expo: 5pm – 8pm
× Celtic Tattoo Spectacular: 6pm
· Sunday 2 December 2012
× Donges Supa IGA Big Breakfast: 7am – 10am
× Children’s Pet Show: 9am
× Live music: Iron & Clay: 10am – 11:30am
× Cherry Pip Spitting Competition: 11:30am – 12:30pm