ITHACA, NY — Managing editor Jolene Almendarez and I are frequently mistaken for one another. To be fair, we are both wavy-haired brunettes who love Harry Potter and work for The Ithaca Voice.

But there is one point on which there can be no mistaking: I love the annual Apple Harvest Festival, and Jolene most decidedly does not.

I have been an autumn person for as long as I can remember.

The first Halloween I could walk and talk with some degree of success, I was dressed up as a pumpkin. My love affair with fall has escalated exponentially ever since.

(I bought my first pumpkins of the season earlier this week. Their names are Charlotte, Genevieve and Patsy. Jolene is no doubt disgusted with me.)

We agreed to disagree, but first I will attempt to convince her to see this weekend’s Applefest through my eyes, for the glory that it is.

Below, you will find my celebratory autumn posts followed by miserable Jolene’s rebuttals.

1. Applefest means it’s finally fall…

This summer has been far too hot for far too long, and even The Ithaca Voice’s vocal resident Texan has said so. On the actual autumnal equinox, the temperatures hovered in the mid-80s. When the apples arrive, so does the promise of cooler temperatures. With the mercury dropping, I can look forward to creature comforts like hot toddies and the smell of wood burning fireplaces on my way home. I can also look forward to fighting with Jolene over the office thermostat.

…but too bad fall is the worst season

Just 30 days ago, I was slinking around the city in my swimsuit, swimming in gorges and drinking chilly tall boys while tanning on flat, warm rocks.

Watching the leaves turn brown (despite the in-between colors, they are all, in fact, turning brown) is like watching summer die a slow and painful death. Summer just steadily slips away from us all until we are left with nothing but unbearable cold.

So. Much. Cold.

2. Applefest brings the best of the farm to downtown Ithaca, no road trip required…

Growing up in Brooklyn, I loved a nice long weekend drive upstate to pick apples once a year. As an adult most recently living in Chicago, the prospect of an hour-long haul each way to Wisconsin or Indiana dampened my spirits significantly. While there are several U-pick farms close to Ithaca, it’s a thrill having the bounty of the Finger Lakes harvest right outside your door in The Commons.

 …because everybody hates road trips, apparently.

I actually have no qualms with accessible produce. But road trips? Who doesn’t love weekend road trips? Probably bike advocates. But WHO ELSE doesn’t love road trips?

3. Applefest is an Ithaca Event with a capital “E”…

Nothing brings out the crowds quite like Applefest. Last year, having only been back in town for a few months I ran into five people I knew within my first five minutes. For me, it’s a joy to see the community alive and thriving together, collide with friends, make new acquaintances, and to observe the Ithacan in its natural habitat. I hesitate to knock Chilifest, because I do love me some chili, but when it’s at freezing or below, my mission it to get the goods and get out rather than schmooze and people watch.

…where you will see E-veryone you dislike.

I did attend Applefest last year. It was raining the entire time. It’s supposed to rain again this year. And EVERYONE, whether you like them or not, will want to stand in the rain with you and giggle about how a rainy, freezing Applefest is part of an Ithaca tradition. Harhar.

4. Apples are not only tasty, but versatile too

As Head of Dining Partnerhips, and a Hufflepuff, I am naturally a food person. Apples are one of those magical foods that can be transfigured into almost anything to suit your taste: pie, cake, cider, vinegar, butter, sauce…seriously, what can’t you do with an apple? Not to mention, Applefest is probably your last chance until the following summer to snag some funnel cake. Jolene, you can’t possibly tell me that you don’t like apple cider donuts. If so, 10 points from Slytherin for lying.

God, I hate apples.

I hate the way apples crunch. I hate the way the sticky juice splashes everywhere when people bite into them. I hate the way I will see nothing but littered apple cores for the next two months. I hate the way social media is about to be flooded with apple-picking posts and photos. Did I mention I hate the crunching sound?

5. There’s more to apples than Red Delicious

When I meet someone who says they don’t like beer, I become convinced that they just haven’t come across one that they’ve liked. I am likewise confident that Jolene has not yet found the right apple for her.

Here at Applefest, one is spoiled by dozens of different types of apples with all kinds of flavor profiles. In the Finger Lakes, we are lucky to have many local farmers growing heritage apples and quirky European varietals.

I humbly ask that you give it another shot.

P.S. If your main grievance is spraying juice and flesh everywhere when you eat an apple, you’re doing it wrong.

Final rebuttal

…God, I hate apples and everything they represent.

Margaritas + patios = happiness

Mimosas + sunny Sunday morning porch sessions = happiness

Scandalous gorge swimming + sneaking off without a ticket = happiness

I miss summer already. But I’ll be at Applefest. Mostly because Jen will drag me along.

Featured photo by Mike Blaney/The Ithaca Voice: Jennifer Wholey celebrates autumn while Jolene Almendarez mourns the death of summer.

Jennifer Wholey

Jennifer Wholey is a feature writer and Head of Dining Partnerships for the Ithaca Voice. Contact her at