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CLEC celebrates $77,000 raised through Ruthven Apple Festival

Members of the Ruthven Apple Festival Steering Committee gathered at the Kingsville Library recently to wrap up the year and talk about the 44th annual event that was held the last weekend of September.

The festival, which directly benefits those supported by Community Living Essex County (CLEC), returned to its physical form after three years of virtual events due to the pandemic and attendees flocked to the festival on a perfect weekend. The festival was at Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens.

CLEC manager of community relations and resource development Tony DeSantis led the meeting which revealed the amount raised at this year’s Apple Festival.

In an ode to days gone by, DeSantis talked about the legacy left behind by those who organized the first Apple Festivals in the early 1980s and how their dedication and hard work planted the roots for the organization and the festival for years to come.

“We’re back to the days when we gathered around a table like this and counted the money and shared stories about the festival,” he said.

CLEC executive director Karen Bolger was on hand for the meeting and said she was thrilled with the 2023 festival results.

“It was such a fantastic weekend,” she said. “In whatever role you played, everyone’s contributions and commitment were so valuable.”

As the committee gets set to start planning the 45th Ruthven Apple Festival, they welcomed new volunteers and paid homage to those who are no longer with us, but played a big part in the festival’s history.

After those poignant moments, the big cheque was revealed to show that the 44th annual Ruthven Apple Festival raised $77,000 for Community Living Essex County — the most it’s ever raised.

DeSantis said that the generosity of the community shone through and the new donation entry table brought in $26,000 itself.

“Very giving, very kind,” he said. “They love this festival.”

PHOTO: Members of the Ruthven Apple Festival Steering Committee posed with the cheque. Back row from left, Gino DelCiancio, Jessica DeSantis, Tom Bonneau, Barry Wilson. Middle row, Tony DeSantis, Joe Colasanti, Stella Ciancio, Nick Mastronardi, Joanne DeSantis, Jana Blair, Terry Colasanti. In front, holding the cheque are Brianne Taggart and Karen Bolger.

By Mark Ribble

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