The theme of this year’s annual Hebron Cider Fest – The Long Hot Summer Cider Fest – was a tribute to the decent summer in the UK, which produced a bumper crop of very juicy apples.
The idea for a cider festival was born in 2005 when there was a glut of apples from trees in the village gardens.
One of the organisers, Chris Hill, said: “We just didn’t want to waste our wonderful crop of apples, so we thought, why not try making cider?
“We read a book, visited eBay and invested in a second hand Scratter and Cider Press. We had a great fun day making the cider and even more fun drinking it at our first Cider Fest a few months later.”
From a small party in a back garden, the Hebron Cider Fest has developed into a night of terrific entertainment, including a home-cooked apple-themed banquet, music, song, dance, and a pantomime – all devised and mainly performed by local residents.
Juliet Brewster, chair of the Hebron Village Association (HVA), said: “Our Cider Fest has grown in popularity year on year and is now an established and very popular date in our community programme.
“The event brings the whole community together. We all pitch in to make cider and wine in the Autumn and enjoy a hearty outdoor lunch.
“The following year, we drink the fruits of our labours as part of a night of feasting and home spun entertainment.”
Ken Baker, Hebron’s ‘Head Vintner’, has honed his traditional wine making skills into a fine art over the years.
He said: “We produce a very fine medium dry white wine. In fact, this year it is particularly good and we declared our first vintage.
“Our golden and lightly sparkling cider is called The Canny Scratter (after part of the process of Cider making in which the apples are sliced into small pieces before pressing in the Cider Press).
“We made a few mistakes in the early days, but now we know what we are doing and our bottled cider has proven more popular than any of the leading brands in blind tasting sessions held at the festival.”
Michael Duffy, honorary secretary of the HVA, is hugely enthusiastic about the event and what it has done for the local community. The village now boasts a morris dancing group with their signature Leek Clouting Dance, female group The Hebronettes, folk singer/song writer Rambling Jim Wigfield and a comedy sketch writing team.
“It’s just remarkable how much talent has been revealed in this small village and how much confidence they have gained by performing in front of a live audience,” he said.
Over the years, the festival has enjoyed performers from Germany, Holland and Somerset, with visitors from as far away as Brazil.