Especially Popular in Michigan
Living in Michigan, as long as I have, nearly 50 years, you develop a passion for visiting certain mainstays. One of these popular mainstays is Cider Mills. A Cider Mill is an establishment with equipment on-site to crush and process apples into the delicious elixir that is Apple Cider. This unfiltered and unsweetened drink is not to be confused with the alcoholic beverages one can find on store shelves.
iStock Cider and Donuts
Specific Cider Mills are located on farms and are actual apple orchards. These mills can process the apples they grow right from the orchard. There is nothing better than being able to pick your apples. This is, of course, assuming it was a good season. This year, for example, was not a particularly good year for Michigan apples. Speaking with one of the owners, they had to bring in out-of-state apples to satisfy the demand.
Local Cider Mill
For as long as I can remember, we could not wait until the start of Fall and a possible Sunday trip to visit a Cider Mill. Fresh-made donuts always accompanied the promise of a nice cup of cider. The wax-like bag holding the donuts was still radiating the heat. Often the Cider Mill offered a choice of plain, cinnamon sugar, or powdered donuts if you fancied. While you were at it, you could peruse the store for a bag of pre-picked apples, apple butter, caramel apples, apple bread, apple dumplings, etc.
No trip to the Cider Mill was ever complete without having participated in a hayride. Jumping onto a hay-covered wagon was always a thrill growing up. There was a particular allure with being conveyed on a tractor-driven wagon to the world ahead. Couple this with taking pictures with the cutouts, and this is always a big hit with the kids.
Over the years, Cider Mills started competing for the customer. In Michigan alone, the last I checked, there are over sixty Cider Mills, all with various activities. These activities include bounce houses, petting farms, play gyms, corn pits, corn mazes, apple guns, karaoke, fire engine rides, pumpkin patches, and the lists go on. It wasn’t enough to process the apples and provide apple cider. Cider Mills have become “Big Business,” and competition is fierce given the short two-month window they operate within, generally ranging from September to October.
Photographers began using the locations, as farms are always a prime backdrop. Now, in addition to apples, sunflowers became very a popular staple for growing. Who wouldn’t want a sunflower selfie with a possible barn in the background?
For me, I will continue to visit the Cider Mill for the promise of fresh donuts and cider. I’ll stick to the simplicity of a nice hayride and try to snap the perfect picture in the provided cutouts. The Cider Mill will continue to be one of my favorite Pastimes on a pleasant Sunday afternoon.