Tashua Apple Festival: Church prepares pies for annual celebration

Christ Church Tashua’s Apple Festival returns this weekend.
Christ Church Tashua’s Apple Festival returns this weekend.

Nothing beats the smell of a fresh-baked apple pie in the brisk New England air.

That’s what keeps residents coming back year after year to the Christ Church Tashua’s Apple Festival, which will celebrates its 39th anniversary from 10 to 5 Saturday, Sept. 26, and from 11 to 4 Sunday, Sept. 27.

The big headliner is the apple pies, and they may be purchased in two forms — either baked fresh the night before the two-day event, or prepared weeks in advance by church volunteers and frozen to be reheated whenever someone wants to enjoy the wonderful flavor.

“I think the quality of the people here is a main reason why people return each and every fall,” said Rector Rob Neville, who took over the church in March 2014. “But I also really think it’s because we have some really good bakers, and people come back for the quality of the pies and the other goods we are providing.”

The Episcopal Church, at 5170 Madison Avenue on the historic property of the Tashua Burial Ground, has been baking 50 to 60 frozen pies per week since mid-August.

Neville said volunteers have been stopping by on Tuesday nights in the late summer and early fall to help prepare for the festival, which is the church’s biggest fund-raiser of the year.

“We raise 10% of the church’s operating costs from this event so it’s a big deal for us, and all of those involved,” he added. “It helps us with some of our local missionary work, including contributions to food banks and shelters over the holidays and throughout the year.”

Speaking of food, there won’t be any shortage of it this weekend when the celebration kicks off. In addition to apple pies, volunteers will have prepared both blueberry and peach pies, Neville said, “but come quickly because there aren’t that many available.”

“We don’t make as many of those types because the ingredients are harder to find and are more expensive,” he explained. “But if you haven’t had a peach pie before, I recommend trying one — it’s real good.”

The pies aren’t the only baked items for sale, though. There will be quiches, cookies, brownies, caramel apples and other baked goods.

“It’s everything you’d expect from your traditional fruit festival type of sale,” the rector said. “Pies are our most popular, but we’ve got really good quiches, too, and they also can be frozen and baked in the oven to eat whenever someone wants.”

Something for the entire family

Like any festival held this time of year, the Tashua Apple Festival has a wide variety of entertainment options planned.

There will be 30 craft arts and craft vendors, a kid’s zone with bouncy castle, face painting, games, and music.

Mums will be sold, along with locally grown apples and cider from the fall harvest: pumpkins, gourds, squashes, varieties of apples, Indian corn, and fall decor.

Also, new this year, there will also be a K9 demonstration hosted by the Trumbull Police Department.

And yes, there will be more food.

“We’ve got plenty of vendors who will be serving hot food both days,” Neville said. “We’ll have tables and tents set up for various things, including eating.”

He added that last year the church saw between 500 and 600 people stop by on Saturday alone.

“Saturday is probably the more popular of the two days, but there’s a real good flow of people coming in and going out throughout the weekend,” he said. “It’s great to see entire families show up — it’s a nice place from them to stop and enjoy the fall weather as the seasonal change begins to happen.”

Coming full circle

Neville, who moved to Trumbull from northern California, realizes that part of the festival’s appeal is its place on the calendar every year, switching back and forth from the last weekend in September to the first weekend in October.

“There are a lot of fund-raisers like this throughout Connecticut this time of year,” he said. “My family and I moved from California, and we never had anything like this — it’s definitely a New England event.

“People love apple pies in the fall,” he added.

For Neville, arriving at Christ Church Tashua was like coming full circle.

His grandfather was born in Trumbull in 1891, and went on to do missionary work in India.

His great-grandfather was the minister of Trumbull Congressional Church before the turn of the last century.

“It’s very serendipitous,” he said, “to end up back here, where my family is originally from, is incredible.”