With autumn’s arrival in Alberta, Calgary clubs celebrate all things apple and Kiwanis.
Story by Jack Brockley | Katy Witt for Kristian Jones Photography
If you want to learn a lot about apples — and enjoy a day of family fun — get yourself to the Kiwanis Apple Festival in Calgary, Alberta. While you’re there, you’ll also learn a
lot about Kiwanis.
George Taven admits Calgary is not known for the popular autumn fruit, but there was a time when apples were synonymous with area Kiwanis clubs.
“During the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, we were known for selling apples,” says Taven, a Calgary Kiwanis Club member and festival chair. “For Kiwanis’ 100th anniversary in 2015, the clubs of Division 7 (Western Canada District) wanted to do something to honor our past and raise awareness about what we are doing today. That’s why we decided on an apple festival.”
With open spaces and buildings surrounded by dense forest nudged into the elbow of the Elbow River, the division’s Kamp Kiwanis provides a natural setting for the festival. On the third Saturday and Sunday of September, the Kiwanians set up an abundance of apple-related activities and open the camp for festival-goers.
“It’s a country fair atmosphere,” Taven says, “with an apple archery range, apple miniature golf, apple treasure hunt, apple face painting and an apple obstacle course.”
It’s also a learning experience.
At the taste-testing table, visitors discover the difference between Fuji, McIntosh and other varieties. Children learn to make delicious and healthful apple snacks and
juice. The Calgary Public Library truck is there with shelves of apple-related books.
Taven says that about 150 volunteers are needed to run the festival.
“Every club in the division — Calgary, Airdrie Foothills, Okotoks, Red Deer, Northmount
Calgary, Calgary Chinook, Cochran, Calgary Metro, Olds and our Circle K, Key Club and Aktion Clubs — participates,” he says.
Each Kiwanis club shows off its projects, including playgrounds, bike restorations and a Christmas toy program. As host, Kamp Kiwanis is on full autumnal display. Tethered hot-air balloon rides give a 360-degree view of the surrounding woods and beyond to Calgary’s skyline. While deer graze along the trails, guided hikes lead to the Elbow River. Former campers, reliving their youth, search for their names, still inscribed on “K-poles.” These totems have recorded every “kamper” and counselor’s name since 1951.
“Our primary goal is to raise Kiwanis’ profile with a fun, family event,” Taven says. “I think we do that very well.”
This story originally appeared in the October/November 2019 issue of Kiwanis magazine.