At fall cider fest, a good swig was had by all

Appropriately enough, it was a crisp, if somewhat soggy fall day for the Greater Peninsula Cider Festival, also known as the Cider Swig, held Saturday at Sehmel Homestead Park. A mellow crowd estimated at 3,890 heard music by Gig Harbor musicians and sampled apple brews of various potency from two dozen cider makers from all over the Northwest.

“You know you’re in Washington when there’s cider, mud and it’s 51 degrees and sunny,” said organizer Julie Ann Gustanski. “Despite the weather, Cider Swig was brimming with real human spirit. A huge thank you to our amazing exhibitors, supporters, volunteers and park district staff.”

Musicians included Fox Island singer and American Idol star Ruthie Craft, folksinger Kristen Marlo, the Gig Harbor jam band Sounds Like Dolores, and Gig Harbor singer-songwriter Maddy Dullum. There were also clowns, food and craft vendors, carnival games and — of course — an apple pie contest.

The event raised about $36,000 for the Gig Harbor Foundation, which sponsors a variety of environmental education, conservation and restoration projects.

The event got high praise from cider makers who poured their wares.

“We had so much fun pouring out ciders and meeting the community,” said Melissa Kitrell of Poulsbo’s Bushel & Barrel Ciderhouse, a fourth-year exhibitor. “This is one of our favorite events.”

“I’ve said it many times, but you know how to throw an event,” said Tim Larsen of Snowdrift Cider Co. of East Wenatchee. “Of all the events around the U.S. that we do, the Cider Swig is hands-down the best-run and our favorite.”