WOODBINE, Iowa — Granny Smith apples scream for about three seconds after being covered in bubbling caramel.
“We try to do it humanely,” Beth Matson of Hancock, Iowa, said with a smile.
But her husband hesitated to agree they treat the fruit fairly. Roger Matson spent Saturday afternoon driving miniature stakes into the hearts of apples at the 25th annual Applefest in Woodbine.
An estimated 9,000 people attended the festival, said event organizer Lisa Vandemark.
The screaming sound the Matsons referred to was a popping noise created after an apple at room temperature is dipped into and removed from a pot of caramel at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
It was the 10th year at the event for the Matsons and their daughter Coletta, 26, who sold cinnamon rolls as well as caramel and candied apples.
A successful caramel apple starts with a five-pound brick of caramel. The family tried making the sticky confection from scratch but couldn't find a recipe that would consistently stick to the surface of an apple.
Roger Matson said it was a learning process. After trial and error, he settled on adding about six tablespoons of water to every six pounds of caramel to create the perfect consistency. He uses a wooden spatula to see if the caramel was ready.
“It's a feel, an instinct, not a science,” Roger Matson said.
For Kent Churchill, 62, a Woodbine native who now lives in Red Oak, Iowa, Applefest is an opportunity to talk about classic cars with strangers and friends who share his interest.
“It's coming here, talking to other people that have the same passion that I do,” he said.
Churchill owned a 1964 Pontiac GTO in high school, but eventually traded it to a dealer for $300 to purchase a 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. In 1998 Churchill purchased another 1964 Pontiac GTO and spent six years restoring it.
In addition to antique cars and all things apple, the event also featured several pumpkin vendors from Council Bluffs.
Brad Richardson's booth featured pumpkins, gourds and moon and stars watermelon, a sweeter, heirloom version of the green variety found at most grocery stores.
Richardson attended the festival with his wife, Cynthia Angeroth, and their two children.
“It's fun for us as a family to do the harvest,” he said. “It's fun to see all the variety.”