Through creativity, hard work, and a little Johnny Appleseed magic, owners Fritz and Catherine Gusmer have turned a York County roadside stand into a must- see destination. Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill is a cozy five-acre orchard complete with the apple-cider press, bakery, Johnny Appleseed’s barnyard buddies, sunflower and apple tree maze, and loads of fun for children and adults.
Novelty gadgets around the orchard include apple peelers like the pioneers used that were invented and designed over 200 years ago, as well as a 1903 windmill that is used as a source of water. The windmill is a “Baker model” the Gusmer’s found several years ago, still packaged in its original box.
The orchard began from a collection of 22 varieties of apple trees from five different orchards. They annually produce gallons of cider and wassail; hundreds of dozens of donuts; baked and fried pies; quarts of apple, peach, pumpkin and strawberry butters; apple butter BBQ sauce; and countless icy apple slushes.
A visit to Windy Hill Orchard has become a rite of passage for thousands of people every year. The orchard is located on Highway 5, five miles west of downtown York. Open annually from the middle of August until December 21, Windy Hill Orchard can accommodate small groups of 10 -20 with a one or two day notice. Large groups should call as far in advance a possible for their choice of tour times.
All visitors, whether groups or individuals, are overwhelmed by the number of free samples they get as part of their tour. You’ll get to sample the cider, donuts, and a peeled-and-cored dried apple. There are even more apple products, made fresh on the premises, available for sale.
One of the annual highlights of Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill is the Apple Harvest Festival. Fritz and Catherine say this isn’t your normal festival. They try to make it a fun, family event where people can come with a picnic lunch and enjoy the orchard. There aren’t any craft and vendor booths at the Apple Harvest Festival. Rather hands-on activities like cider squeezing, apple butter making, hayrides, a petting zoo, a trip to the pumpkin patch, and Make-it Take-it Scarecrows.
For more information call (803) 684-0690 or visit the website at www.windyhillorchard.com
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