Join Waukesha resident Brien Lee and his blog, Sir Fido, as they explore the city and report on the interesting things they find.
Email Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I thought the morning's rain and cooler temps may keep away more than just the wasps. After years of good weather for Retzer's Apple Harvest Festival I wondered if this would be the one time few would show up. Fortunately word has gotten around in the last 24 years of the festival and they came. They came before it officially opened. They came while it was still raining and, long after the parking field was muddy, they came. They brought cloth bags and picked up free recycling bins to carry their fresh apples home in.
This year I learned much more about apples through 3 hours of helping in the apple marketplace tent. We had 50 varieties for sale and an apple expert to answer our many questions. We sold apples by the piece, quarter and half peck, by the peck and by the bushel. Piece cost was only 50 cents each for 49 different varieties, just the honey crisp apples were $2.00 each. All the apples came from three local orchards.
The sun came out within and hour or two of opening, and so did the Waukesha apple sauce pests --wasps. Every year this time they are a problem at the fest, but who can blame them with all the good cider, pie, apple crisp, caramel apples and fresh apples being cut up, spilled, consumed . . .
Walking around after my shift I noticed the scarecrow contest was as competitive and imaginative as ever. The kids were making all kinds of crafts, including sun visors, and for once there was no waiting for the hay wagon.
One old man at Apple Fest I'd remembered seeing before. The reason I took his photo at Irish Fest, during a parade while in his Civil War uniform, is he truly looked the part. He was at Retzer to entertain with a 1930s era concertina and wooden spoons. He and his partner drew a good crowd because they played well-known tunes and involved the kids with a dozen extra sets of spoons for them to join in with.
I recall seeing him at last year's Apple Fest, but this year in the apple tent is the first time I got around to talking to him at any length as he filled up his bag with Macintoshes. Aside from Irish Fest and Apple Fest, he also often entertains at the VA Medical Center. He's a WW II vet who fought in Normandy, France, and carries a shrapnel souvenir embedded in his back some 70 years later. It's too close to the spinal nerves to remove. The pain reminds him of it every time he bends over or stands up. Thirty percent disability doesn't make up for the pain or pay the bills. I picked up the tab for the Macintoshes. It was the least I could do for someone who's done so much for everyone else.