Monday October 8, 2012

ZEKE WRIGHT

Staff Writer

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Spurred by visiting leaf-peepers, a number of fall-themed community events have been busily taking place before the onset of colder temperatures. In Cambridge, there was plenty of pie to sample along with music and children's activities at the fourth annual Cambridge Valley Apple Festival on Saturday.

"It's a busy weekend everywhere," said Deb Foster, a board member of the Cambridge Valley Chamber of Commerce. With the changing fall foliage and Columbus Day weekend, Foster said the apple festival was opportunely timed and also coincided with a fall festival in nearby Greenwich.

The street fair at Railroad Park included carnival games and an apple pie bake-off, and also a pair of pie-eating contests for children and adults. While the headline attractions were repeats from last year, Foster reported more participation.

"This year, there's so much going on around the community," she said, including a greater community-wide tag sale.

A notable omission -- this year's bake-off winner won't be served at the Cambridge Hotel as in previous years after the hotel's closing. While Chamber organizers received permission from the bank to hold Saturday's event on the hotel park property, the winning pie recipe this weekend will instead be made publicly available for duplication at home.

Earlier this year, tourism officials predicted a colorful fall season. In Vermont, the state Department of Tourism and Marketing forecasts the transition from mid to peak foliage in the southern part of the state over the following two weeks.

The bright colors herald visitors, and in response in Cambridge, a "downtown visitor survey" is seeking out-of-town input. Rick Lederer-Barnes, a village trustee, created the survey as an economic development tool to hand out beginning this weekend.

Lederer-Barnes said the survey was "geared toward visitors of the village," although locals are also encouraged to respond. The questionnaire asks what brought respondents to Cambridge, what events they attend, how much they spend, demographics, and thoughts for improvement.

While he said the village had limited ability to promote economic development, Lederer-Barnes said the results could be shared with organizations like the Chamber or a future economic consultant.

In addition to being available at the festival on Saturday, the survey was also distributed to area businesses and posted on the village website.