(Photo by Harry Burton)

Now that it’s October, the leaves are starting to turn and pumpkin patches are popping up everywhere.

There are a plethora of fun fall activities to do, but sadly the annual Salt Spring Island Apple Festival won’t be one of them this year.

Harry Burton, the owner of the apple orchard located right by Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, and organizer of the annual event, has decided to cancel the festival due to COVID-19.

In its 21 years of existence, the festival has only been cancelled once before in 2012, when caterpillars ate the crop of applets.

“The trees were completely stripped so there was no crop that year,“ said Burton.

In a regular year, the festival gets around 1800 adult visitors.

“It’s just the right number here because we’re all small …so we don’t need huge crowds,” explained Burton.

See also: 7 safe & spooky Halloween events and activities in Greater Victoria this year

For those who still want to experience the festival, there are virtual tours online compiled from images and videos captured during last year’s event.

Despite the festival being cancelled, Burton says he plans to still sell apples like he does every year at the Moss Street Market in Victoria.

“I’ve always sold at the Moss Street Market in Victoria, so that’s my big outlet for apples, and I [sell at] a couple [of] stores as well,” said Burton.

The apples sold at stores and markets will be the biggest source of revenue for Burton this year, much like most years.

Meanwhile, revenue collected at the apple festival itself is mainly donated to local community organizations and charities.

For example, every year, $750 out of the total event proceeds fund a scholarship for a local high school. While there won’t be a festival to raise money for the scholarship, Burton says he is still fundraising to make sure he can supply money for the high school.

And despite the disheartening fact of the event being cancelled, Burton has still found some positives in the situation.

“It’s sure been nice and calm not having to organize the apple festival,” he said, adding that the cancellation has given him the opportunity to take some time off.

As for apple pickers on Salt Spring Island and beyond, they’ll just have to get their apples at the market and wait until at least next year to visit the island for apples.

Subscribe to the Victoria Buzz newsletter to receive the latest news, events and more directly to your inbox. Every day.