EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Apple Hill farmers are ready to showcase a great harvest this holiday weekend, but they are seeing some backlash.
Chris Delfino, president of the Apple Hill Growers Association, said he recognizes there may be some negative attitudes directed at them as they carry on with their Labor Day celebrations while thousands remain evacuated due to the Caldor Fire.
But in times of hardship, he feels it’s also necessary to look at the positives.
“This is the best yield we’ve had in over 30 years,” Delfino said. “We thought because of the drought — We thought it would cause the yield to be less. But the blossom was just unbelievable.”
While there is cause for celebration, smoke from the Caldor Fire, which is still burning miles away, hangs in the air over the farm.
“We were very concerned, number one, for the safety of this area. A third of our farms were shut down and evacuated,” Delfino said. “Now, it’s been released and they’re all OK to open now. And the smoke has been blowing, as you can see, and by late morning, it’s gone. And so we wanted to kind of celebrate. You know, we’re farmers; we’ve dealt with adversity all the time.”
For Rebecca Sikoral and her family, it’s always been a thrill on Apple Hill.
“I brought my husband up for the first time, but I’ve been coming here every year since I was a little kid,” Sikoral said.
Apple picking, pie baking and apple pie tasting are making a comeback at Delfino Farms after a surprisingly plentiful harvest.
Local residents and farmers are also concerned about the amount of traffic Apple Hill festivities bring to the area. They worry it could be a nuisance to first responders who are going to the Caldor Fire, but Delfino says otherwise.
“We’re not going to be a problem. They’ve opened up Carson Road now. If it was late September, October, then it’d be a different ballgame,” Delfino said.
Apple Hill may not be as busy as previous years, however, due to the staggering number of people evacuated from El Dorado County. Delfino said he recognizes it is a very sensitive subject, but he is trying to see the bright side.
“We didn’t want this to happen — this fire. But it did, alright, and we were blessed by it not coming down here. And because of that, we want to open our arms for people that, ‘Hey, we’re going to be here for you.’” Delfino said.
And for the Sikoral family, they have a message for those on the frontlines of the Caldor Fire.
“My heart goes out to all of them and thank you so much for trying to protect everybody,” Sikoral said.
Delfino says they are giving discounts to the firefighters and first responders who go to Apple Hill this weekend.