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Louisburg Cider Fest

45 years of serving up family traditions

Open year round, the Louisburg Cider Mill proudly serves and ships its delicious apple cider the same way they have for the last 46 years. But, something magical fills the air every late September through early October. The everyday country store and mill becomes a destination for thousands and transforms into Cider Fest. 

A tradition almost as old as the mill itself, the festival draws in folks from far and wide, seeking that fall feeling and craving the taste of Louisburg’s perfect pair–a glass of crisp apple cider and a warm, homemade apple cider donut rolled in sugar. 

These staples are two of the main attractions at Louisburg Cider Mill, and it’s no surprise that the hours spent in the kitchen and behind the machines kick up a notch after Labor Day.  

“Our production team will be working every day of the week from now through the end of November pressing and bottling,” Marketing Manager Susan Johnston said. “We make our apple cider donuts every day, year round but through the fall months is when we will start making hundreds of thousands of donuts throughout the day.”

Louisburg Cider Mill has also established quite a name for itself outside of Miami and Johnson County lines. Bottled cider has made its way onto grocery store shelves and restaurant menus throughout the Midwest. Its reach has come a long way since 1977 when Emmett and Mary O'Rear were dreaming up a family business. 

“They purchased the 80-acre piece of land and started their dream,” Johnston said. “Throughout the first year the barn was renovated and held the equipment needed to crush and press the apples, bottle the juice, and make the donuts to serve and sell to the customers right there in the barn.” 

The importance of family was woven into the very concept of the cider mill’s beginnings. The O’Rear’s granddaughter Alexis Hebert and her husband Josh continue that same priority today as the owners. 

“For a lot of people, it's a family tradition to come to the cider mill every year and just sit around and enjoy the outdoor fall atmosphere,” Johnston said. “What started out as a gathering to enjoy fresh pressed apple cider, cider donuts and listening to music has grown to the handmade craft vendors and food vendors that it is now.” 

These days, Cider Fest kicks off the mornings with a pancake sausage breakfast by the Louisburg Lions Club and different bands and musicians entertain with bluegrass music throughout the afternoon. The craft and food vendors fill our parking lot, and ponies and inflatables are for the children to enjoy. 

While much of Cider Fest has changed over 45 years, the purpose for why it was started has only sunk its roots deeper into Louisburg soil. 

“This will be my sixth season here at Louisburg Cider Mill, and I've noticed there are a lot of young adults that come here with friends,” Johnston said. “I think what was a childhood family tradition for them has now become their own traditions with their young families.”

Whether the attraction is guided by taste buds or a feeling only fall can explain, a family tradition awaits the oldest or youngest of families. 

  • Cider Fest 1988