October is usually one of the busiest times at Hamptonne Country Life Museum. This beautiful, rural site would ordinarily be bustling with activity as preparations are made for one of Jersey Heritage’s most popular annual events, the Cider Festival –
La Faîs’sie d’Cidre.

This year is a little different. The apples in the Orchard are still being harvested from trees laden with fruit and cider is still going to be made using the old granite press. But the number of Islanders who can physically be at Hamptonne to witness this wonderful tradition being brought to life is limited by official guidelines.

Covid-19 continues to have an enormous impact on Island life, not least on events, many of which have been cancelled this year. We were determined to continue preserving the Island’s rich heritage of cider production and to provide opportunities for community involvement in this annual event – vital if these traditions are to be handed down to future generations. To do this, the Cider Festival, which is kindly sponsored by Islands,
has had to take a different format.

We’ve had to stand down the host of stallholders and bands,
who are usually an integral part of the festival. Instead, this year is all about the humble apple as we celebrate it in its autumnal glory. We need about 160 x 25kg sacks of the fruit to be collected to make our cider and sessions to pick apples in the Orchard are fully booked. Also full are pre-booked slots for groups to watch the volunteer cider makers hard at work over the weekend of 17-18 October, when Cider was due to take place.

There is always such a special atmosphere when the cider press is working its magic and hundreds of people usually come to Hamptonne to be a part of it. The audience will be smaller this year but we are delighted by the enthusiastic response from Islanders, who are clearly as keen as we are to keep the traditions of cider making alive.

For those people who aren’t able to make it to Cider this year, we’ve got plenty more apple-related activities for them to feast on virtually. A video of this year’s cider making will be available for people to watch by the end of October. In the meantime, there are lots of apple-related things for families to enjoy in our Heritage at Home hub at www.jerseyheritage.org, as part of our latest Discovery Day, Apple Apprentice, kindly supported by Lloyds Bank. These include apple facts, things to make and do and the history of cider making.

Cider might be different this year but it’s still happening and we hope it will be back to its usual
busy and vibrant
format next year.

One thing that is
certain is that after
this year’s efforts
by the cider makers, there will definitely be something to toast at
La Faîs’sie d’Cidre 2021

By Nicky Lucas, Jersey Heritage Events Curator