December 1, 2021

Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill in Virgil opens for season

A season for eating

Travis Dunn/Staff Reporter

Hugh Smith of Iowa enjoys a doughnut while Sweetpea and Dawn Odinek of Cortland look on early Saturday afternoon at Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill in Virgil. The business, founded in 1933, opened for the season, selling apples, pies, dough- nuts and a variety of other goods.

Hugh Smith said he came all the way from Iowa just for the doughnuts.

“We’re supposed to come see the relatives,” he said, “but really we came for the doughnuts.”

His sister, Dawn Odinek of Cortland, scoffed. “Don’t eat too many,” she told him.

Smith and Odinek both grew up in Marathon, and every year a family reunion happens to coincide with opening day for the Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill in Virgil.

Founded in 1933, the opening of Hollenbeck’s is synonymous with the start of fall for many residents, who turn out in droves on the third Saturday in September for the cider, the doughnuts, the apples and the pies.

First thing in Saturday morning though, it was doughnuts, said owner Matt Hollenbeck. Long lines for doughnuts in the early morning thinned out after a few hours, as sales of cider and apples picked up.

“It’s going smooth,” Hollenbeck said. “Wonderful weather always makes it easier for people to come out.”

Jennifer Phelps and her 8-year-old son Zeke are regulars at Hollenbeck’s. Saturday, they were waiting in the doughnut line, after having stopped first to pick up some apples.

“We come every year,” Phelps said. “We love their pies and their doughnuts.” They don’t stop on the first day either; they return every weekend, she said.

Saturday they picked up half a peck of apples, a dozen doughnuts, cider and apple pie.

“All their pies are delicious, so we usually get a different type of pie every time we come,” she said.

Travis Dunn/Staff Reporter

Brynn Haines, 1, and her mother Jackie Haines of Cortland share an apple early Saturday afternoon at Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill in Virgil.

Jackie Haines and her daughter Brynn, 1, were sharing an apple, while Haines’ father, Tony Barsano of Oneida, waited in line for doughnuts. Haines’ mother, Sharon Barsano, said they come every year.

Sharon pointed to her husband. “He loves the doughnuts and the cider and the pies — everything,” she said.

Little Brynn, however, was fixated on the apples.

“Her first apple at Hollenbeck’s,” Haines said as Brynn took another bite.