Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 21, 1998)
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT
HALEY HABEGGER, 4, of Pawnee City, competes in the apple-bobbing con
test during the Applejack Festival on Saturday in Nebraska City. This year
marked the 30th anniversary of the festival.
BRENT DENNISTON TASTES one of the entries in the apple pie contest
Saturday during the Applejack Festival. Judges for the contest also were
competing for the title of Mr. Applejack.
BECKY PAUL, 7, of Bellevue, eyes her prize while competing in the apple
bobbing contest Saturday at Nuckoll’s Square Park. The contest was one of
many offered in the apple-ympics.
Nebraska City festival
quadruples town’s size
Some may go cuckoo for Cocoa
Puffs, but for 30 years, apple lovers
have been going to Nebraska City for
The Applejack Festival, that is.
The town of 6,500, along with sev
eral thousand visitors, celebrated the
festival’s 30th anniversary with attrac
tions including a parade, children’s
activities and tours of the town’s three
surrounding apple orchards.
Festival organizers didn't overplay
the anniversary, said Paula Darling,
Nebraska City tourism director, but
not because of a lack of effort.
“It can't get much bigger,” she
And with a parade including 30
bands, the annual Apple Bowl football
game between Peru State University
and Dana College and a weekend
boom quadrupling Nebraska City’s
population, it's hard to argue.
“We expect about 30,000 people
this weekend,” Darling said. Other
estimates were as high as 40,000.
Many of these people come to see
their kids play in the marching bands,
which come from as far away as York
to the west and Missouri and Iowa to
the east, Darling said, and at least one
couple had come from as far away as
Following the parade, the
Applejam Fest entertained crowds
with live music, the crowning of Little
Miss Applejack and several competi
tions, including apple-bobbing, apple
coring and seed-spitting.
Visitors not only crowded the
streets of Nebraska City, they also
flocked outside the city to see the real
stars of the festival - the famous
Missouri Valley apples - go through
quality checks and cider presses.
West of the city at Arbor Lodge,
Susan Wirth, education coordinator
for the National Arbor Day
Foundation, which owns the orchard,
explained to visitors how hundreds of
thousands of apples are sorted for dif
ferent uses as they bounce along a long
conveyor line with chutes, belts and
The apples run on a chain-link belt
that separates the small ones from the
large ones. If an apple is too small and
falls through one of the holes in the
belt, it goes to the cider press. The
large apples are sent downstream,
where workers inspect them.
If an apple is misshapen or has a
bruise, it’s sent to be made into pie or
applesauce. If it’s badly broken or
squashed, it’s sent to the press. The
apples that make the cut are packed
carefully into paper bags to be sent to
Outside, Ferd and Delores Lintel
sold their homemade apple butter, just
as they had at the Applejack Festival
for the past several years. The Lintels
live in Lincoln and make 41 different
kinds ofjams and jellies for their com
pany, Grama’s Inc. While Dolores sold
the finished product, Ferd stirred a vat
of unfinished butter over an open fire.
The process of making the butter takes
about four hours, Ferd said.
“You peel, core and grind (the
apples), add sugar and spices and cook
the h-e-1-1 out of ’em,” he said.
Although apples were in abun
dance in Nebraska City, the festival’s
namesake - applejack - was nowhere
to be found. Webster’s New World
Dictionary defines applejack as a
brandy distilled from fermented cider,
but all of the cider appeared to be of
the non-alcoholic variety.
So why call it the Applejack
Festival instead of simply the apple
In 1968, Jack Brawner, owner of
Brawner Furniture in Nebraska City,
was talking with then-chamber man
ager for the Chamber of Commerce,
Ron Ballou, about ways of attracting
visitors of the surrounding orchards
into the city.
Their idea was a fall festival - now
all they needed was a theme.
Finally, Ballou turned to Brawner
and said, “We need a festival centered
around apples, Jack.” Apples, Jack,
became Applejack, and the rest is his
Brawner, who hopes to retire soon,
said he has not been involved with the
festival for 13 years, but he said he
takes pride in the celebration that bears
“I’m thrilled about it,” he said, “to
see how much it’s grown.”
Many of the weekend visitors to
Nebraska City also seemed thrilled.
Craig and Karen Collins, of
Omaha, said they were impressed with
their first visit to the festival. Their
friend, Don Hendricksen, also of
Omaha, described Karen as somewhat
of an apple connoisseur - just last
week they had visited Martin Apple
Orchard in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The couple came to Nebraska City
to sample products for Karen’s apple
pies and apple crisps, but Craig, who is
from West Point, said they found much
“Living m a larger town, it’s nice to
come back to a town like this,” he said.
“It brings back fond memories.”
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