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Apple Day: Bloody Ploughman and Sheep’s Nose help put annual Gillespie Park fruit festival at core of community

PUBLISHED: 09:40 23 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:59 23 October 2017

How do you like them apples? Islington mayor Cllr Una O'Halloran with kids at the Gillespie Park Apple Day 2017. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

How do you like them apples? Islington mayor Cllr Una O'Halloran with kids at the Gillespie Park Apple Day 2017. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

2017 Steve Bainbridge

Fruit fans celebrated all things apple at Gillespie Park’s annual harvest festival.

The apple juicer at Gillespie Park's Apple Day. Picture: Steve BainbridgeThe apple juicer at Gillespie Park's Apple Day. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

The fourth Apple Day in the park, in the shadow of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium off Gillespie Road, was organised by the Friends of Gillespie Park group on October 15 to celebrate British produce.

Four hours of apple-themed activities, including juicing, tasting and displays of heritage fruit from Brogdale National Fruit collection, paid homage to the British classic.

Apple Day 2017. Picture: Steve BainbridgeApple Day 2017. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

Pat Tuson of the Friends group said: “The day was great and very successful, helped by some lovely weather.

“We had more than 1,000 people come throughout the day, including the local councillor who brought some local apples.”

Apple Day 2017. Picture: Steve BainbridgeApple Day 2017. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

There were 20 varieties from the Brogdale collection, including the Scottish “Bloody Ploughman” and the appetisingly named “Sheep’s Nose”.

Appearances were even made by Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn and mayor of Islington Cllr Una O’Halloran, in full regalia.

Mayor Cllr Una O'Halloran helps kids press apples at Gillespie Park's Apple Day 2017. Picture: Steve BainbridgeMayor Cllr Una O'Halloran helps kids press apples at Gillespie Park's Apple Day 2017. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

“We were trying to encourage people to eat British apples, but also encourage people to visit the local park,” said Pat.

“I think there’s a lot of publicity for British apples now - supermarkets are becoming more attuned to what people want.”

Visitors get stuck in juicing apples. Picture: Steve BainbridgeVisitors get stuck in juicing apples. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

Children tried their hand at apple pressing and could take the juice home afterwards.

An apple bobbing stall also featured, while the park’s Sunday Cafe sold apple-themed food, including winter soup, apple cake, and baked apples.

Hold your nose: apple varieties at Apple Day 2017 included the oddly named Bloody Ploughman and Sheeps Nose. Picture: Steve BainbridgeHold your nose: apple varieties at Apple Day 2017 included the oddly named Bloody Ploughman and Sheeps Nose. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

Entertainment was provided by children’s violinist group The Gillespie Band, along with a cellist, classical guitar player and Celtic-American group Reelin’ n Rockin’.

Some 2,000 apples were brought for the day, with the sparse leftovers sold off cheaply at the end.

“The only thing I would change about next year is to buy more apples,” said Pat.

Apple Day replaced a larger-scale festival in Gillespie Park a few years ago, but its origins date back three decades to 1990, when an event celebrating sustainability and British fruit was held in Covent Garden.

The official nationwide Apple Day for 2017 is October 21.

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