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Apple Fest finale

Visitors turn out for closing day of festival

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Taylin Pedersen, 6, makes a “corn kernel angel” in the corn box at the Community Orchard’s Back 40 playground during Sunday’s Apple Fest.

The Community Orchard closed out its annual Apple Fest season on Sunday afternoon.

The three-weekend fall event welcomed thousands of families from Fort Dodge and the surrounding area for pumpkin picking, apple picking, hay rides, corn mazes and more.

Owners Greg and Bev Baedke have had at least part ownership of the orchard since the 1980s and obtained full ownership in 1990. According to Greg Baedke, Apple Fest has been a fall staple for the orchard for decades.

“I think it’s a kind of drawing card for the community,” Greg Baedke said. “We’re pretty diversified — we have the apples, we also do lunches, the bakery, the gift shop and then the Back 40 playground. There’s pretty much always something for somebody to do.”

Apple Fest is the first three weekends in October and this year, rain put a slight damper on the first two Apple Fest Weekends, Greg Baedke said.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Matthew Blue, 12, feeds the goats at Community Orchard’s Back 40 playground during Apple Fest on Sunday.

“By far this is the better weekend out of the three,” he said on Sunday afternoon. “It was great and very busy yesterday and today.”

Despite the rain, the orchard still saw between 6,000 and 7,000 families each weekend of Apple Fest, he said.

The visitors are Greg Baedke’s favorite part of Apple Fest every year.

“Just to see the kids and parents go out and find that pumpkin or play here in the Back 40, just having a good time with a smile on their face and just having fun,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

The orchard will remain open through Dec. 22. The Back 40 playground remains open through Oct. 31 and rides to the pumpkin patch will still be available on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 27.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Jesse Davenport, of Fort Dodge, races his daughter Harlow, 4, in the pedal cart track at Community Orchard’s Back 40 on Sunday afternoon.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Alia Velasco, 4, dances along to the music while atop the tractor tire pyramid at Community Orchard’s Back 40 playground during Apple Fest on Sunday.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Kids of all ages have fun jumping around in the Community Orchard’s Back 40 playground during Apple Fest on Sunday.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Jessica Welp takes a photo of her 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, on one of the horse swings at the Community Orchard’s Back 40 playground during Sunday’s Apple Fest.