Nebraska City celebrated their 52nd annual “all-things apple” festival, drawing in people from across the state.
Every year, Nebraska City and the Arbor Day Farm hosts the AppleJack Festival, a series of weekends filled with fun fall activities such as apple picking, a tree adventure, food trucks, wine and cider tastings, live music, competitions and a parade. The festival started Sept. 19 and will run every weekend through Oct. 11.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges, but the Arbor Day Farm used those to its advantage.
The director of mission engagement for the Arbor Day Farm, Adam Howard, said this year has been one of their most successful yet. Thousands of visitors came out to the farm each weekend. However, Howard said they took precautions to make the farm a safe place for visitors.
They enforced mask-wearing indoors and set up many sanitizing stations across the property. With acres of land, the Arbor Day Farm provided spaces for visitors to socially distance.
The Arbor Day Farm extended their hours and invested in an online ticketing system for wine tasting, cider tasting and the tree adventure. This allowed a constant flow of people through their property.
“We have flattened our own curve by investing in an online ticketing system this year,” Howard said.
Another new feature this year is the tree adventure space. It is 30 acres set up for visitors of all ages to interact with nature and enjoy a peaceful, adventurous experience.
The Arbor Day Farm had more visitors than anticipated due to no Big Ten football and a nearby orchard closed on weekends.
A springtime frost left their orchard with about half the usual crop. Howard said their “u-pick” apple orchard sold out within the first two weekends. Now, they only have pre-bagged apples available.
Howard hopes people felt safe and enjoyed their time at the Arbor Day Farm this year.
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