Image of a couple wearing masks comparing apples at Arbor day Farm
Aubrey Davis (left) and Cameron Hobwood (right) from Omaha choose the best apples from Arbor Day Farm's apple orchard during the AppleJack festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.

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.

applejack 1 scaled - A weekend at the AppleJack Festival
Aubrey Davis (left) and Cameron Hobwood (right) from Omaha choose the best apples from Arbor Day Farm’s apple orchard during the AppleJack festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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Arbor Day Farm bustles with activity as people wait in lines to get apple treats during the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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A couple enjoys a wine tasting during the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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A boy picks apples at Arbor Day Farm during the AppleJack festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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Families spread out in the grass during the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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Two siblings munch on the apples they picked from the apple orchard at Arbor Day Farm during the AppleJack festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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Abbie Perry (left) and Zach Dinslage (right) with friends from Omaha do a wine tasting at the Arbor Day Farm during the AppleJack festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020. They all agree that the “peach wine” is the best kind they tasted.
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Wine tasting offers a variety of four types of wine along with a complementary to try at Arbor Day Farm during the AppleJack festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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With COVID-19 this year, Arbor Day Farm posts signs to encourage people to wear masks during the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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During the Apple Jack Festival, a parade comes down Central Ave with hundreds of spectators during the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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A girl tosses leaves into the air during the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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Two teams battle to win the water barrel contest during the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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During the water barrel fight, a team cheers as they beat their opponents during the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.
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A couple watches parade during the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday Sept. 19, 2020.

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