ORONO, Maine — Trinity Long knows a thing or two about apples. The 5-year-old has an apple tree growing in her yard in Bangor.
“Papa planted a peach tree,” she said Saturday, “but it came out an apple tree.”
Trinity took part Saturday in the Applefest at the Page Farm and Home Museum at the University of Maine. The event is held every year on Homecoming weekend, according to Mary Bird, chairwoman of the program committee for the museum.
The kindergartner, who had a green apple painted on her cheek, was not sure what kind of apple grows in her yard. She was certain, however, that the best kind of apple grown on the university’s apple farm is the Honey Crisp.
Trinity gave her endorsement to the variety of apple grown at the Highmoor Farm in Monmouth after tasting the eight varieties grown there.
“Because it was sweeter and shinier,” she said when asked why she chose the Honeycrisp over the better known red and golden delicious, McIntosh or Cortland varieties.
The Applefest drew a tiny number of participants compared to the thousands who poured onto the campus for three days of Homecoming events. In addition to hockey games Friday and Saturday nights, a football game Saturday afternoon, class reunions and Greek gatherings, the festivities included the annual Craft Fair and Maine Marketplace.
This is the 35th year the fair has been held during Homecoming weekend as a fundraiser for the UMaine Alumni Association, according to Christine Corro, alumni programs and events coordinator. Nearly 200 vendors, all of whom live in Maine, participated this year.
“Many of the exhibitors come back year after year,” she said. “The crafts have changed over the years. We used to have a lot of ladies knitting mittens. Now we have a lot more fine crafts.”
Clyde and Carolyn Folsom of Bangor have displayed their paintings at almost every fair since it began. The couple agreed that few painters bring their wares to the event anymore.
“Selling always is up and down and we can’t ever predict it,” Carolyn Folsom said. “Last year, we did better than we expected. The year before, sales were lower than we would have liked.”
Corro said the crowds who attend each day of the fair are different. Alumni and “the athletic crowd” come on Saturdays, while community members, many of whom are familiar with the Craft Fair, come on Sundays.
“Our target for attendance is 6,000,” she said Saturday in-between solving problems such as the loss of electricity at a display booth and directing visitors to particular vendors. “Our goal is to raise $20,000 for the Alumni Association.”
The money is used for student scholarships and to allow the association to stay in touch with graduates over the years, she said.
Nearly every high school, college and university in the country holds a homecoming event in the fall, according to Todd Saucier, president and executive director of the Alumni Association. Between 14,000 and 15,000 have attended UMaine’s Homecoming annually in recent years, he said.
“This is a time to bring alumni and students together to celebrate their institution,” he said. “For some, it’s the first time they’ve been back in 35 or 40 years. They’re coming back to see their classmates and they’re here because they’re Black Bears.”