POPLAR GROVE, Ill. (WTVO) — Visiting Edwards Apple Orchard is a tradition for thousands of people every Fall. But this year is the first the attraction is operating without founder Bob Edwards, who passed earlier this year.
The Edwards family has operated the orchard since 1964.
“Although grandpa isn’t here this year, we all know that he is looking down on us and he’s just excited as we are for another great season,” said Edwards’ grandson, Andy Smith.
One of the biggest reasons that Edwards Apple Orchard is so popular is the cider donuts. Smith says there’s something else:
“I think what really draws people in is the feeling of family, of togetherness, of making this a tradition,” he said.
In the ’60s, the Edwards family says many people called Bob crazy for not planting corn and soybeans on the property.
Edwards’ son-in-law, Larry Smith, said, “People thinking that he wasn’t real smart to start with apples. It’s a funny story now, because it’s been great.”
For decades, the family says it has been living their grandfather’s dream.
Andy said, “For the past 55 years, we as the Edwards family, have been able to work side-by-side because of this thing grandpa decided to do.”
“He started it as a family business, and if you look around here today, it’s all family that’s working here,” said Larry. “A lot of friends, a lot of neighbors.”
Andy says that despite Bob Edwards’ absence at the orchard this year, his family will do their very best to fill his shoes.
“We’re so excited for opening day,” Andy said. “We get a lot of returning families that are going to come back and share this tradition with us again.
Edwards Apple Orchard East is located at 7061 Centerville Road in Poplar Grove.
Edwards Apple Orchard West, is located at 8218 Cemetery Road in Winnebago.
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