There's a lot to be said for 'good old country hospitality', particularly in Australian towns such as Young in New South Wales, which is currently gearing up for the 65th National Cherry Festival.
'Hello there, where are you folks from?' asked the young lady in the cherry-red dress. Peter and I were quietly standing to one side of the old railway platform at the rear of the Visitor Information Centre in Young, when Cherry Queen Entrant, Caitlin Muller (pictured centre above), made her way over to bid us welcome (which she did with a warm, wide smile). We were among the 150 or so visitors who had gathered at the Hilltops Region Cellar Door for a wine-tasting, before boarding the buses that would take us to the Batnich family's cherry orchard for the long, lazy lunch.
Caitlin was one of three Cherry Queen Entrants who mingled, chatted and joked with guests during the event. Proceeds raised from the lunch went towards the Cherry Queen entrants’ local charities and the staging of the 2014 National Cherry Festival, which will be held on December 5, 6 and 7. Towards the end of the lunch, all three Cherry Queen Entrants gave a short speech, introducing themselves and talking about their chosen charities. Despite their nerves, they were all engaging and entertaining, and demonstrated confidence, dedication and poise. It was truly refreshing to meet each of these young women and hear them speak.
During the formalities, Clr John Walker, Mayor of Young, welcomed His Excellency, Dr Damir Kusen, the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Young. The Ambassador was invited in recognition of Croatian immigrant, Nicolas Jasprizza, who founded Young’s cherry industry more than a century ago. Jasprizza was a key figure in the development of Young’s cherry industry and the town’s economy generally. While he came to the area to mine for gold in the 1860’s, it was through his experimentation using existing cherry stock that he developed a large commercial cherry holding. By 1893, he had 100 acres under cherries with 7,000 full grown, 3,000 young and 5,000 nursery stage cherry trees, as well as a 60 acre vineyard. His descendants have also played a major role in the industry right up until recent times.
The lunch was held on a perfect, blue-sky spring day in a cherry orchard with trees laden with blossoms. With music by Shiraz, and a Croation-themed menu prepared by the Provens from the Pastor's Pleasures and Susie Forrest catering, as well as delicious cherry pie, the event was a huge success. For a taste of how good it was, watch the short video below. You might catch a glimpse of my Peter in a blue checked shirt and baseball cap at 44-45. ヅ
Postcards and morsels...
A couple of other good things to see and do in Young...
Coffee aficionados, Adrian and Gabrielle Capra, started Art of Espresso with a coffee cart and the mantra of 'changing the way coffee is perceived in the bush'. After a visit to Italy, the spiritual home of espresso, the couple's coffee adventures took them on their espresso train from Greenethorpe in central NSW to Orange and Byron Bay, among other places. In 2010, they opened their flagship espresso bar, dedicated barista school and coffee roastery in Young. Not only have their blends won them multiple awards, the innovative couple are also now manufacturing coffee carts for wholesale customers. Peter and I love their philosophy and we also love their coffee! Make sure you pop in and check them out!
Kevin and Vicki Powderly grow their own vegetables, fruit and berries on their farm in Young. In 2004, the gift emporium owners expanded the business with the launch of Poppa's Fudge and Jam Factory. Their deliciously fresh, farm grown produce is used in making a range of jams, sauces, cherry pies, fudge and preserves. One of our favourites is the plump dried cherries dipped in milk or dark chocolate. The fudge is also very good! Kevin and Vicki's motto is 'Give me fudge and no one will get hurt!' Fudge flavours include cherry explosion, lemon meringue and butter pecan. You'll find Poppa's in Lovell Street, Young. Hampers can also be delivered across Australia and New Zealand.
Michael and Jenny Philpot are the owners of this charming little cottage in Yass Street, Young. Jenny explained that they purchased it several years ago as a run down property, badly in need of TLC and restoration. It has since been delightfully renovated and features all the comforts of home. So much so, that Peter and I would have liked to 'fold it up and take it home', so that we could plonk onto a block of land somewhere beside the sea. Among the surprises on offer were jars of tea, coffee, chocolates and little packs of cereals. A stay at this property is highly recommended.
The National Cherry Festival street parade...
Mark your diary for the National Cherry Festival Street Parade, which will be held on Saturday, 6 December 2014. The lively and colourful street parade reflects the strong sense of community and pride that exists within the town.
Mark your diary...
The 65th National Cherry Festival will be held in Young, NSW from 5-7 December 2014. Highlights include the crowning of the Cherry Queen, cherry orchard tours, live music, a fireworks display, farmers market, pie eating competition, cherry pip spitting competition, bush poetry and the street parade (pictured above).
The Young Cherry Festival is held every year to showcase the region's cherries and stone fruit. Beginning in 1949, the Festival has grown to be Young's largest event, drawing thousands of people to the town and the Hilltops Region each year. Originally known as the 'Blossom Festival', the event was originally held to celebrate the fact that Young had the world's largest cherry orchard!
Another note for your diary: if you've always wanted to learn to bake cherry pie, Cath Mullany, pie maker and orchardist, is giving a two and a half hour class on at Ballinclash Orchard on 13 December. Cost is $50 and something tells me there will be cherry pie tastings. More information can be found here.
If you plan to visit Young, there is accommodation in the form of motels, caravan parks, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and self-contained properties, such as Young Cottage (pictured above), where we stayed; and Adriana's Bed and Breakfast, which I showcased in this post. For more information, see the Visit Young web site. There is also a good assortment of cafes, restaurants, pubs, bakeries and cellar doors that are well worth investigating. You'll find more information here. There's further information about Young and surrounding districts on the Visit New South Wales web site.
Thank you again to the Young Shire Council and Visit Young for inviting the Good Things to the long, lazy lunch in the cherry orchard event, and generously hosting our accommodation at Young Cottage.
Tell me dear Aussie readers, have you ever been to Young in NSW? And for my readers around the world... is there a cherry festival like this held in your neck of the woods? Are you good at baking cherry pie and spitting cherry pips?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.