APPLE HILL, Calif. (KTXL) — A break from the heat and improving air quality have more and more people looking to Apple Hill as a day trip destination, especially during restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
Growers in Apple Hill are expecting the light crowds this season, which started several weeks ago with the beginning of the apple harvesting season.
It’s a huge part of the local economy with vendors hawking homemade items benefiting as well.
“We were thinking we may not be able to open,” said Apple Hill Grower’s Association President Chris Delfino.
Delfino also runs Delfino farms, one of the original operations in Apple Hill started by his father.
As the season ramps up to its peak in October, his baker is preparing for a busy weekend where there will be some relief from heat and smoke.
“All that smoke has been pushed out an the fall weather is in the air. Can you smell it? I can,” Delfino told FOX40.
Growers have reworked their operations to conform with health guidelines, including frequent cleaning and social distancing measures.
Growers like Delfino are thankful that their operations have always featured outdoor activities where social distancing is easier to manage. His new winery building is designed for outdoor dining.
“Here in Apple Hill they can separate 6 feet easy, all in outdoor seating,” Delfino explained.
Visitor Cindy Arroyo says she likes that her kids have plenty of room to roam safely.
“This is our third time up here this season,” Arroyo said. “We haven’t had a single experience where it’s been too crowded.”
And for Niki Denton, she says her kids needed a break from pandemic restrictions.
“No school and no sports, it’s nice to have options to go outside and play,” Denton said.
And it’s not restricted to kids.
“Nice natural trail to hike down and come back around down by a creek,” visitor Stephanie Berry said. “And you can roll down a hill, even a 66 year old can roll down a hill.”
It’s still unclear if there will be fewer visitors this year or if Apple Hill will draw dangerously heavy crowds that typically cause traffic jams during October weekends.
But the growers are nothing if not adaptable after all they’re not strangers to adversity.
Delfino says he’s weathered wildfires, frosts and hail storms that van wipe out an apple crop — and now a pandemic.
“We’re survivors, farmers, we are … we just have to roll with the punches and be cautious of it and be fair to the people who are coming, which we are doing,” Delfino said.
Crowds are typically smaller on weekdays and during September.