Over 400 people attended the festival that last took place back in 2019
ATASCADERO — The 5th Annual Central Coast Cider Festival made a triumphant return to Atascadero on Saturday, Aug. 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. The last time the festival took over the Pavillion on the Lake was back in 2019, but after a four-year absence, it was back with more cider and more fun.
“There was a lot of anxiety in bringing it back, and we’re trying to bring it back with as much consistency as possible,” said Maggie Przybylski, the Central Coast Cider Association (CCCA) president. “And honestly, we’ve had such a good turnout.”
Over 400 people attended the Cider Fest, which the CCCA put on. The fest also featured 20 of California’s best cider makers all in one place.
“This year’s cider fest, we had the most cideries ever in that building. It’s pretty incredible,” said Cody Broadstone, co-owner of The Poison Apple and Secretary of CCCA. “I think there’s only like 90 cider makers in California, and there’s like 12 of them here, right on the Central Coast. There’s so much as far as cider makers go. Just the density here locally is incredible, especially for my purposes with The Poisoned Apple trying having a tavern for other people’s products. It’s really cool to have all that right here. It was so cool to see how many people came from out of the county.”
“I believe Chico is our most northern, and then San Diego County is our most southern,” Przybylski added. “It’s a pretty big swatch of California, and I think that represents maybe a quarter of all the cider makers in California.”
Next year The Central Coast Cider Fest hopes to move the event outside to accommodate more cider makers and more cider lovers.
“I had such a good response from cider makers,” said Przybylski. “We had kind of maxed out, and then I had several other people reach out to me like, ‘I still want to come,’ and I was like, ‘Let’s make room. Let’s see if we can make some room.'”
This year, the CCCA decided not to hire any outside help to assist them with marketing, which is how they’ve done it up until 2019. They delegated the jobs throughout the cider-loving and making community, and this is what happened.
“We’re actually about the same attendance [this year as in 2019], which is why we’re so excited that we were able to pull the same amount of people just by ourselves,” added Broadstone.
This year the festival also added an educational program at the beginning of the festival from 4 to 5 p.m. for all the attendees who bought VIP tickets since one of the CCCA’s primary missions is to provide cider education to guests as well as yummy beverages.
Thomas Henry of Mount Diablo; Brandon Buza, photographer and certified pommelier; Dave Carr of Raging Cider and Mead; and Jake Mann of Five Mile Orchard near Corralitos all gave different lectures having to do with the production of the cider that would be in people’s glasses all night.
But the most fantastic thing about the Cider Fest is that it brought the cider community from all over California together in one space.
“A lot of people I know are here, and I miss them a lot,” said Peter Clausen, owner of Friendly Noise from Los Angeles. “So it’s kind of a cool way to reconnect with a community I hadn’t seen in a while.”
And the cider makers themselves were excited to try new ciders that aren’t readily available where they’re from.
“This has been fun,” said Drew Gabel, the founder and cider maker at Blindwood Cider. “There’s a lot of cool cider down here and a lot of people making some awesome cider that we don’t normally get to try up in the Bay Area. It’s fun to meet new people and try some new things.”
Local cideries also attended this year after the four-year break. Tin City Cider, who had a booth at all four previous cider fests, was there again this year.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been here, so first off, it’s awesome to be in a room with all of the fans of cider in general, and I think specifically to this day, I’m most excited on, as a whole, the quality of cider in this room,” stated Curt Schalchlin, owner and director of cider making at Tin City Cider.
The sixth Annual Central Coast Cider Festival will be back next year on Aug. 24, 2024.
Feature Image: Kelsey See Canyon Vineyard staff members man their table at the Central Coast Cider Festival in Atascadero. Photo by Rick Evans