There's nothing better than some hot, fresh-pressed apple cider on a chilly fall day, especially after working hard to make it every step of the way from the apple orchard to the ladle.

Kids helped churn a vintage cider press to make apple juice on Saturday at the annual Fall Family Fest at Fort Missoula.

"You have to really put your whole body into it," said Julia Bartos, a youth program facilitator for Missoula Parks and Recreation, which organized the event.

Abigail Bunyak, 8, helped turn the wheel to grind the apples into pulp and then press the juice out into a tray below the press.

Kids lined up to work through 1,000 pounds of apples donated by community member Dave Mac using the presses rented from MUD, the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project.   

"It seems like they've been learning a lot about the whole process and they get to be hands on and see how the mechanics work," Bartos said.

Parks and Recreation staff then pasteurized the juice in pots over a portable stove before serving the finished product to attendees.

The cider helped warm up festival attendees enjoying one of the remaining days of autumn, although they didn't seem to mind the temperatures in the low 40s.

"I think if it were warmer it would have been a little more popular but also Missoula people are pretty hardcore and willing to go out," said Allison Riggs, a Currents employee who worked the face paint table on Saturday.

Riggs painted butterflies and pumpkins on kids' faces at one of many tables set up to keep kids busy.

Families could also participate in an array of fall-themed crafts, lawn games and hayrides.

Kylie Gragg attended the 19th annual festival with her 6-week-old infant, 2-year-old son and sister. Gragg said she wasn't planning on coming because of forecasted rain, but changed her mind when the weather changed course.

"This is such a great event for Missoula," Gragg said. "It's something fun to do this time of the year and just get outside."

Donations from the Fall Family Fest support Parks and Recreation programs for kids and adults, including a year-round after-school program focused on "outdoor active fun" with open enrollment.

Tyler Decker, the department's outdoor recreation coordinator, said they plan to use leftover apples from the festival to make cider at Moon Randolph Homestead next week during one of the after-school programs.

Decker said the festival is the "last hurrah" for Parks and Rec's busy season that begins in the spring.

"Our big focus is just getting people outdoors and active and this is just a great venue to bring the community together and celebrate," Decker said.

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.