Our friends Dawn and Richard Ford love holidays. They love holidays so much that if there is not a holiday when they think there should be one, they invent a holiday. Case in point: Apple Day.
Apple Day started when their son, Christopher (who is now in his mid-30s), was about six years old. Dawn and Richard had seen a newspaper article about Carver’s Orchard in Cocke County and they decided to go there and take Christopher. “We made it a big day out,” Dawn recalls. “We combined the visit to the orchard with a picnic and a hike. It was a lot of fun.”
Apple Day and its activities became a tradition. Until, that is, Christopher got to be a teenager and rebelled by refusing to go to Apple Day anymore.
But Dawn and Richard continued the tradition themselves, going to Carver’s every fall.
Until about 10 years ago. That’s when Dawn casually mentioned to me that she and Richard couldn’t do something we were doing because they were going to Apple Day. “What’s that?” I asked. When she explained it to me, I didn’t hesitate. “We’ll go with you to Apple Day!” I exclaimed, abandoning plans to do whatever else it was we were discussing. And we did go to Apple Day — that year and every year since.
Apple Day has expanded. First we added a fancier picnic at Mynatt Park in Gatlinburg where we would alternate years bringing the food to cook out on the grills there. We even grilled lobster tails one year. Then we added card games – usually Hearts, which we would play in the park until nightfall.
Five years ago, Dawn and Richard bought a cabin right off the Gatlinburg Spur. Now Apple Day is Apple Weekend. We go up on Saturday, stop at the orchard, go to the cabin to play cards and cook dinner and then, on Sunday, the women go to Tanger Outlets Mall while the guys go play golf. We consider it one of the best holidays of the year.
Which is pretty much what Dawn and Richard had in mind when they invented it. It fits into their whole philosophy of life.
“You have this gift of your life and you need to have fun with it,” Dawn explains. “Not just on Apple Day, but every day. Life should be about having fun with your family and friends. That’s why we like to create traditions.”
Richard agrees. “Going to the orchard puts me back in the frame of mind when I was young and things were simpler, easier,” he says. “You can forget about what your daily routine is and return to a more gentle time. It’s homey.”
So here’s to Apple Day. We loved it this year and look forward to celebrating it for many years to come. Christopher, you don’t know what you’re missing!