They're tops in Michigan cider making
Andy Sietsema and his father Skip with the wooden cider keg trophy.
Skip Sietsema and his son Andy became first-time winners in the Michigan Cider Contest, held during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids in December. At the awards banquet, they received the traveling trophy—a wooden cider keg.
The Sietsemas built a new cider mill near Ada last year and resumed cider making after several years out of the business. “I love making cider,” Skip said.
He grows 88 varieties of apples, but, like most cider makers, he keeps his blend a secret.
Three-time contest winner Jim Engelsma, who placed third this year, was given the Master Cider Maker award, becoming the third Michigan cider maker to win three times in the 15-year history of the annual contest. Jim and his wife Becky sell cider from their retail market near Grand Rapids, pressing some 2,000 gallons a day during the height of the fall season.
Bill Irwin and Bill Emory, at Irwin Orchards at South Lyons in eastern Michigan, were the first to win the Master Cider award in 2003. They came in fourth this year. Last year, Jim and Arlene Hill at Hill Bros. Orchards near Grand Rapids added to the roster of Master Cider Makers. They took second place in the cider contest this year.
The Michigan Cider Contest is sponsored by the Michigan Apple Committee and conducted by Michigan State University Extension educator Bob Tritten, the goal being to improve cider made by Michigan cider mills. Also recognized at the awards program was Harold Thome of Comstock Park, who has been one of the nine judges every year since the contest began.