Several hundred people of all ages took advantage of clear skies Saturday to press apples, examine pond critters and take a horse-drawn wagon ride at the annual Phillips Farm Fall Festival at Virgil Phillips Farm Park north of Moscow.
Palouse residents had three fall festivals to choose from Saturday, including the one at Phillips Farm, the Evangelical Free Church of the Palouse Fall Festival on Airport Road outside Pullman and the Washington State University Fall Harvest Festival at the WSU Eggert Family Organic Farm on Animal Sciences Road in Pullman.
Many children at the Phillips event gravitated toward the apple press. They either placed apples in the grinder, cranked a wheel to grind the apples or turned the press, squeezing out the fruit’s juices into a bucket.
The juice was then heated and available for purchase with the funds benefitting the park, said Jesse Spohnholz, a member of the nonprofit organization Friends of Phillips Farm.
Spohnholz said about 1,000 pounds of apples was picked and purchased from Steury Orchards outside Potlatch.
Clayton Halladay, 6, loaded the grinder with apples and cranked the wheel, appearing to use all his might at times. He said his favorite part was packing the grinder, and in the process, making it more difficult for his sister to crank the wheel.
Halladay’s parents and two sisters joined him at the festival. Jolene Halladay, Clayton’s mother, said the festival is one of their favorites and they attend every year.
She said she likes that there are several easy, hands-on activities for children and there are almost no lines to stand in.
“It’s just a nice environment, I guess, because it’s so peaceful and it’s all nature,” she said. “It’s not in the city but it’s still close enough that we can drive out here with a 3-year-old, you know?”
There was, however, a bit of a line to ride the horse-drawn wagon.
Milt Moore, of Princeton, piled about 25 people at a time into the carriage and his white Percheron horses, Dixie and Dolly, led the way for the roughly eight-minute rides.
Moore said he has offered rides at the festival for at least 10 years.
Sisters Dixie and Dolly, each about 17 years old and each weighing almost one ton, slowly trotted most of the time but they also conducted some backward and circular maneuvers in an open field as Moore called out the commands.
“I love to do it with the horses, but I love to see the people have a good time too,” Moore said. “The kids enjoy this. It’s a good opportunity for these kids.”
Moore said he has owned numerous horses but Dixie and Dolly are the best he has ever had because they listen well and are quiet.
Maya Spellman, 9, was one of the happy riders Saturday.
“I just like animals so I just try to do something with animals,” she said.
Nearby, amphibians and insects, many of which were caught near or in the park’s algae-covered pond, were on display for people to examine.
Noah Gregg, a Moscow High School Environmental Club member, said a live-capture trap was used to secure one of the Columbia spotted frogs that now sat on the table and he used a net to capture the other one.
A water bug, leech, salamander larvae, snails, dragonfly larvae and stoneflies were also on the table.
“It’s enjoyable to see the excitement of kids being able to see the stuff that they normally wouldn’t be able to see or catch,” Gregg said.
The festival also included live music, food and other booths and nature activities.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.