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Illinois Specialty Growers Association to host cider, hard cider contest

Illinois apple cider makers will again get a chance to see who makes the best cider in the 29th Annual Cider Contest and the 16th Annual Hard Cider Contest, hosted at the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference in Springfield, Jan. 10-12, 2018. The event is sponsored by the Illinois State Horticulture Society.

“We’re excited to again host this contest, which gives our growers a chance to highlight their amazing products,” said Jim Fraley, manager, Illinois Specialty Growers Association. “Plus, contestants have a chance to not only compete against other producers from Illinois in the Illinois State Awards, but also against out-of-state producers in the Midwest and North American Awards.”

For the Apple Cider Contest, contestants are asked to submit a one-gallon full container of unclarified apple cider that may be fresh or has been stored frozen. Hard apple cider contestants are asked to submit a one-quart, but no more than a one-gallon, container of product for the hard apple cider-judging contest.

“Those interested in the hard cider contest will want to get started now in order to have the maximum amount of fermentation time,” Fraley said. “We only ask that contestants make sure their product is hard apple cider, not hard apple cider wine.  Although there is no definite break or definition where hard apple cider stops and where wine starts, we are looking for a hard apple cider product with alcohol content below 8 percent.”

Hard apple ciders containing other fruit flavoring, such as pear, cherry, peach, or cranberry will not be considered for judging.

Registration for all apple cider contests will be Thursday, Jan. 11, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:45 am, with judging beginning at 10:00 am. There is a $10 entry fee for each contest, with one entry per orchard and/or farm family permitted for each contest.

Cider entries may be delivered in person during on-site registration Jan. 11, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., or shipped directly to the conference: Crowne Plaza, 3000 Dirksen Parkway, Springfield, IL, 61703, Attn: Cider Contest. Be sure to label shipped packages, “Cider Judging Entry–Keep Refrigerated.”  Shipped entries will be accepted by the hotel no earlier than 48 hours prior to the start of the conference. All Frozen cider entries must be thawed by 10:00 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11. No late entries will be accepted.

Awards will be announced during the dinner banquet Thursday, Jan. 11.  Entry forms can be found at

For additional information, contact Ken Johnson, cider contest coordinator at [email protected] or 217-243-7424.