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Vinton County Bank

home : vinton county : vinton county
October 17, 2017

10/9/2017 9:10:00 AM
Sojourners to press cider at Sojo Cider Festival Oct. 14

What happens when you combine scrap metal and a bicycle; fun, food and games; and the legacy of an orchard? You get the annual Sojo Cider Festival, coordinated by Sojourners, a nonprofit youth development organization headquartered in McArthur, Ohio.

The Sojo Cider Festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 14 on the grounds of Sojourners, at 605 West Main Street in McArthur, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is no entrance fee.

Event Activities

"This year we have added more fun activities for children. We will have an 18-foot inflatable slide, and an inflatable basketball game. We will also have pony rides from 1 to 6 p.m., and hay rides throughout the day," said Shelly Horvath, communications director for Sojourners.

The popular Vinton County band, Eastwood, will perform from the Sojourners front porch from 4 to 6 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs for the concert.

Apple and flower vendors will be on site with delicious apples and autumn flowers for sale.

Beulah Mae's BBQ will be selling smoked meat and other great food, and all the proceeds will be donated to Sojourners. Hot dogs, and other popular children's food will also be available. The event will also feature hot spiced cider, cider slushies, and bottled cider for sale.

Making Cider

"Participants and staff in Sojourners' Youthbuild AmeriCorps program took on the challenge of designing and building a cider press from scrap metal from the Sojo Eco Community Recycling Center, a social enterprise of Sojourners. Our press is ingenious and unconventional, even a little wacky-think Rube Goldberg. The whole thing is powered by people riding a bicycle," said Shelly Horvath, Sojourners' director of communications. "Part of the fun of the festival will be watching us press the cider. And, of course, we will be bottling and selling half gallons of the cider, right by the press. That's as fresh as you can get," Horvath said.

The Legacy of Tom's Apple Orchard

When Tom and Connie Fullen bought their 40-acre farm in 1986, the erosion was so bad the land was just a series of gullies. The family worked for years, grading the land, adding manure and seeding the sandy clay soil. Through reading and networking with other farmers, the couple put many conservation practices in place. And, Tom planted an orchard. He taught himself to graft and propagate trees and became a certified nurseryman. In 1994, an illness meant that Tom had to retire from his work in construction. He turned to farming as full-time business, turning a hobby into a profitable business venture. A few years later, Tom lost most of his eyesight. He still picked his apples, though, his children sitting at the foot of his ladder, telling him where the apples were. And blind, he still pruned his trees, because he could tell by touch and memory where to cut.

Vinton County Health Dept.

Late in 2015, Connie Fullen contacted Sojourners to ask if the organization would want to take over the maintenance of an apple orchard on her property in Vinton County. Fullen's husband had died several years pervious and she was not able to maintain the orchard on her own. Sojourners envisioned the orchard as a way to involve staff, program participants, and foster families in a natural, sustainable activity, while building another social enterprise for the organization.

During the past two years, staff, participants and foster families have met on weekends in the orchard to prune over 100 apple trees and clean fallen branches and debris. Participants in Sojourners' Permanent Supportive Housing program have taken on the responsibility for mowing and maintaining the orchard. The orchard has also been the site for service trip volunteers. Sojourners feels very fortunate to be able to carry on the legacy of Tom Fullen's orchard.

Sojourners is an asset-based youth development organization serving Appalachian Ohio.

A non-profit organization founded early in 1999, Sojourners fosters positive opportunities for children and young adults living in some of the most distressed counties of Appalachia. The organization provides a variety of programs including: foster care and adoption, runaway and homeless youth services, employment training, diploma and GED support, mentoring, leadership training, and service learning opportunities.

All proceeds from the Sojourners Cider Festival benefit the youth development programs of Sojourners. To learn more about the Sojo Cider Festival and Sojourners visit www.sojournerscare.net, like the organization on Facebook or follow it on Instagram and Twitter @sojoforkids.

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