Last Saturday, September 12th, we adventured to Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. Johns to attend the Cider Fest event.  I was a kid the last time I visited and with the feeling of fall in the air, it seemed like the perfect thing to do.

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Just as I remembered, Uncle John’s Cider Mill instantly welcomes you and makes you feel at home. Converted barns feature different things to do from the classic cider and donut experience to trying all kind of snacks, wine tasting or shopping. The gift shop is filled of fun things including toys, attire, Harvest decor and many assorted souvenirs. There were a lot of unique items featuring the Mitten and I almost walked away with more than one. There is a play area outside for the kids or a fun train to ride as well.

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The history of Uncle John’s is kind of a fun story: In the 1970s,  John & Carolyn Beck purchased the family farm from John’s parents. It was originally a wholesale fruit and vegetable farm, however the operation financially struggled so the Beck’s knew they needed an innovative way to stay open and decided to make apple cider and donuts. After their initial success, more goodies became offered to customers such as pies, breads, preserves, honeys and syrups. Entertainment for fall festival events and Barns were transformed into things like a gift shop and a winery. You can read more about the history by visiting their site above.

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The Cider Fest took place outside under big white tents. There was local radio station spinning classic rock and roll records (yes, actual records on a turntable!) and the music filled the air. The event had quite a turn-out and the tent was crowded, however not unpleasant.

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The admission was $15.oo (adults 21 and older) and included 10 tickets for tasting along with a souvenir Michigan Cider Association glass. Sixteen Cidery/Winerys partcipated in the Cider Fest including Uncle John’s. Each Cidery offered a minimum of one hard cider or wine to sample with most offering three or more selections. The pours were quite large (pretty close to a full 10 ounce glass) and only required a single ticket. Additionally free, no tickets required, delicious donuts and regular apple cider from Uncle John’s was available to enjoy. The portions of hard cider were so generous that neither Garrin or I could utilize all of our tickets, however we sure enjoyed the hard ciders we tried. A new hard cider favorite of mine is Meckley’s Cidery ‘3rd Coast’–sweet with peach flavor.

After visiting the Cider Fest tent, we walked around the grounds, the snack and gift shops. We then enjoyed some live music outdoors while looking at the rustic wood crates filled with colorful pumpkins ready for picking.

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I think I had a better time visiting Uncle John’s Cider Mill as an adult then as a kid so I will definitely be back. Check out their website for upcoming events as there are lots of fun activities to enjoy–this weekend features a craft show!

 

About Liz Ball

Liz Ball is a freelance writer focusing on Michigan travel and local events in her community.