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Fall fun at Doud Orchards

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TRACTOR SHOW: Pioneer Tractor Weekend at Doud Orchards draws in many antique and unique tractors for visitors to see on Saturday and Sunday.
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DRIVING MISS DAISY: Richard Norman inspects his 1959 Farmall tractor during Pioneer Tractor Weekend. This is one of severalshows Norman has driven the tractor to this year.

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

Even with the threat of rain, Doud Orchards still had a full house Saturday afternoon for Pioneer Tractor Weekend.

The weekend is just one of many held at the orchard throughout the fall season and is an event farmers look forward to every year. The event, organized by the Pioneer Power Tractor Club, can draw in anywhere from 15 to 50 tractors depending on the weather and this year wasn’t any different.

A line of tractors had gathered before noon including a 1959 Farmall 560 Diesel owned by Richard Norman, Akron, who drives the tractor solely to antique tractor drives. The Pioneer tractor drive is just one of several shows Norman has driven the tractor to this year alone and he already has another drive lined up next weekend in Wisconsin.

“I’ve had it in seven states so far this year,” Norman said. “Last year, I put 1,850 miles on it and I’m already at 2,950 right now.”

Pioneer Tractor Weekend is not only about tractors, but about fellowship as friends get together to talk shop and catch up with one another.

“We’re just old friends that like to mess with the old stuff,” said Steve Powell of Roann, who was visiting with Norman. “We’re not too hot on the computerized stuff.”

According to Doud Orchards Owner Connie Doud, tractor weekend normally brings in more farmers and visitors interested in antique tractors and it always proves to be a great weekend for the orchard.

“It’s usually a good weekend for us,” Doud said. “We usually have the parking lot full or nearly so, so it’s a good draw.”

Similar to previous events held this season, visitors had the opportunity to enjoy not only admiring antique tractors, but getting their fill on everything apple inside the orchard. The orchard offers everything from home-made apple dumplings and apple butter to fresh cider and slushies.

Visitors were also welcomed to pick from nearly a hundred different apple varieties in the orchard or in the store, all with cards detailing what each apple is best used for whether that be baking or eating.

Since tractor weekend lasts until 6 p.m. today, residents still have time to get to Doud’s to pick pumpkins, see a parade of tractors or listen to live music from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Even then, there are still several weekends left in October, all of which will be filled with live music, family fun and apples galore at Doud’s as they celebrate fall.

This time of year is always busy for the orchard, according to Doud, mainly because the apples are ripe and ready to pick, but also because this time of year brings a sense of fun and fellowship for residents.

“There’s nothing like going to the orchard in the fall. It doesn’t matter what orchard,” Doud said. “There’s something about that smell, the crunch of an apple, the fresh cider. There’s just something about that that people just relish.”

It’s because of this the orchard plans an event every weekend until the end of October as they cater to residents with food, shopping and entertainment.

The orchard, over 120 years old and the second oldest orchard in Indiana, has become a staple in Miami County and a tradition among families and friends.

One visitor, Gretchen Anderson, remembers visiting the orchard with her parents when she was younger and she wanted to make memories like that with her son, Tyler. 

“It’s always been part of my memories of coming here with my parents,” Anderson said. “I love fall and it’s my favorite time of year so I wanted to share it with him and start a tradition with him and then we’ll start it with his brother when his brothers a little older.”

The orchard is must visit during the fall and draws in people from surrounding counties as well as farther out into the Indianapolis and Chicago area.

“There are a handful of people from this area that will drive back, visit relatives and they plan it so they can visit the orchard while they’re here,” Doud said.

While the orchard has expanded their business to include selling apples to surrounding schools for their lunch programs and whole food sale, they’ve still maintained a home-grown and small-town feel that keeps residents coming back for more.

They’ve even added a few items to the store to make it more friendly and have pushed two new apples this season after two years of blind apple tastings among guests and having them choose which ones they liked the best.

From those tastings, guests chose Sagittarius and Aquarius, both are known to grow well in the Midwest, according to Doud.

“We work wherever we can to make people happy,” Doud said.

The next upcoming event at the orchard is Oktoberfest on Oct. 13 and Oct. 14 where guests can enjoy fall decorations and pumpkins among the usual items. The Swampwater Stompers will also be playing live on Oct. 14 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Visitors interested in seeing the orchard and partaking in some fall fun can find Doud Orchards at 8971 N. Ind. 19, Denver or visit their Facebook page/website for more details.

The orchard is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12-6 p.m.