EAST CANTON - Usually, representatives of The Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program (PAMP) can be found in Harrisburg, but on Saturday they were in East Canton for the Pennsylvania Apple 'n Cheese Festival.

"We're always looking for opportunities to promote apples," said Julie Bancroft, executive director of the organization. The marketing program paired itself at the event with Farm Fromage, which sells handmade, artisan cheeses from Lancaster County and the surrounding area.

At PAMP's table at the festival at the Manley-Bohlayer Farm, small cups of apple slices and different cheeses were available for people to sample.

Bancroft noted that PAMP was letting people try some samples of apples that they may have never tasted, specifically the Northern Spy, Jonagold, and Macoun varieties. The apples were from Gardiner's Orchard in Troy. People could also sample apple butter at PAMP's table.

Bancroft was surprised by the large crowd that showed up for the festival, which she said kept them busy.

"We haven't sat down today," she said.

She thought the festival fit in well with the marketing program, which represents 287 growers across Pennsylvania. It was the organization's first time at the event.

"It's really great for us because people are here for apples and cheese," she commented.

"I think it's definitely a great event for us."

Anne Gross of Pottstown, Pa. tried a Jonagold apple sample at PAMP's table.

"It's delicious," she said. "I have never had a Jonagold, so it's a new variety for me. Now, I'm going to look for them at home."

According to the marketing program's website, PAMP is a commodity marketing program established by the Commodity Marketing Act of 1968. It notes, "The program is funded by apple growers and governed by a Board of Directors. The Board is composed of growers from various regions of the state and a representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The program's goal is to promote the sale and consumption of Pennsylvania's fresh apples and processed apple products. PAMP works with Pennsylvania retailers, direct marketers, apple processors, and apple shippers to provide point of sale, promotions, and marketing support across various distribution channels. In addition, a portion of PAMP's annual budget is dedicated to horticultural and/or marketing research."

Our House Cakes & Bakes, a local specialty cake and catering service business, was one of the cheese vendors on hand at the festival, with 12 kinds of cheese. People could sample their cheeses and also buy them.

LouAnn Smith, who operates the business with Kris Victory, said the smoked bacon horseradish cheese was popular with festival goers Saturday.

"It has the horseradish bite, but a smoky bacon flavor with a cheddar cheese base," she said. She said that an extra sharp cheddar also was a hit with people.

They also had two new Italian cheeses, a provolone and a mozzarella, both smoked, as well as a marinated fresh mozzarella.

"It's a family tradition," she said of the festival. Her father, Floyd Avery, was one of the founding directors of the festival.

Marcie Shinn, a member of the festival committee, said she didn't have official attendance figures yet, but she said the turnout was outstanding. She thought the summer-like weather helped.

As for the success of the festival Saturday, she said, "I think it's a testament to our quality vendors that people come back year after year."

She was pleased that The Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program was on hand.

"We're really happy to have them," she said. "That's a nice addition."

Shinn noted that the art show had a "beautiful collection of quality work, both art and photography."

One sight that drew quite a crowd was the working cider press. Demonstrations were held and people could try a sample of freshly pressed apple cider, handed out by Marie Kennedy.

The festival continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Oct. 6.

The festival website notes that the event features juried crafts, a Fine Arts & Photography Show, quilts, a weaving demo, hand-blown glass, a blacksmith demo, chainsaw carving, wine and cheese tasting, continuous free entertainment, wood turning, apple butter making, children's activities, cider pressing, apple and cheese desserts, apple displays, and a broom making demonstration.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.