Apple Blossoms Just In Time for Festival


WINCHESTER, Va. - After 106 years in business, this year's cold weather hasn't deterred Marker Miller Orchards. Founded in 1908, the family run orchard has been seen every Apple Blossom Festival since the first in 1924.

"That’s the whole reason for the Apple Blossom Festival: the future harvest of the apples," said Heather McKay, co-owner of Marker Miller Orchards.

Marker Miller Orchards will host the Apple Blossom’s Apple Pie Baking Contest for the 12th year in a row.

"This is one reason we were enthused to participate in the Apple Pie Baking Contest, because it's about the only thing that takes place in the county, you know, out in the orchards,” said John Marker, also a co-owner of the orchard. “It's really beautiful here when the trees are in blossom, and I think that will happen this year."

The contest, which was once judged by Betty Crocker, was an old tradition Marker Miller Orchards brought back after a 20 year hiatus.

"It has grown. It used to just be mainly contestants, and now there are quite a few spectators," said Marker.

"Some of the same contestants have been back. We have a lot of new ones this year, but a wide assortment. We have males, females; I think we have six youths," said McKay.

Marker Miller's produces around 4.5 million pounds of apples a year from about 25 different types of apples, but contestants will be required to bring their own supplies.

"They’ll have to do everything here. They'll have to peel their apples, make their crusts,” said Marker. “We'll put them in the oven about 10 a.m., out by 11 a.m., and then they're judged about noon, after they cool."

The Apple Pie Baking Contest is such a staple to the Apple Blossom Festival that even the queen will make an appearance.

"The queens are just as sweet as they can be. The queen, Ali Astin, and her court will be here on Thursday about noon,” said Marker. “They always sample some of the pies, and they seem to enjoy it also."

"Everyone’s welcome to come out May 1st and watch the pies being made. It's a time for fellowship, and getting the community together,” said McKay.

The apple pie baking contest is free, and open to the public. Marker Miller Orchards will formally open their "pick your own" fruit and market on June 2, 2014. 

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