Cider season starts this weekend at Blake’s

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Michigan’s craft beer industry is fully established, and there are many state-centric beer festivals year-round to prove it. With fall just three weeks away, the owners of Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill say it’s time to celebrate the state’s other craft beverage: hard cider.

The first Cider Dayze Festival this weekend will highlight one of Michigan’s top fruits, apples, in the form of an adult beverage.

“We’ve seen a big impact from hard cider, it’s growing with the craft beer trend,” says Dave Blake, manager of the mill. His grandparents, Gerald and Elizabeth Blake, founded the orchard in the 1940s. “This event is a good way to kick off the fall and get the season started.”

Two years ago, Blake’s underwent a million-dollar renovation to expand the hard cider production facility and open a tasting room and restaurant near the cider mill.

Blake says the Cider Dayze festival also iswill promote local cider companies including Vander Mill in Spring Lake, Uncle John’s in St. Johns and Tandem Ciders in Suttons Bay.

The outdoor event takes place Saturday and Sunday in a large field next to the original Blake’s farmhouse, where DaveBlake’s grandparents lived and raised their 13 children. Besides cider, beer from Michigan breweries will be represented. Visitors can also expect live music, food and games like baggo, barrel races, apple bobbling and a beer stein holding contest.

“There will be information sessions on home brewing and how to press cider, and make your own hard cider,” says Blake, who wanted to offer something for his family business that wouldmillennials and college-aged people would enjoy.

Ticket are $35 for one day or $55 for both and include nine 5-ounce samples and a souvenir glass. Additional samples are available for purchase. Food, available at an extra cost, will come from Blake’s own kitchen, Bad Brad’s BBQ and the Mulefoot Gastropub from Imlay City.