It’s hard to recover your reputation once you’ve been accused of fomenting the fall of man. It’s the sort of indictment that humanity doesn’t easily forget.

But the apple has been trying to live down that whole Adam and Eve incident for centuries. The past is the past, the Honeycrisps have pleaded. Let the fruit move on, cried the Cortlands. But with time, a few decades of therapy and an expensive PR campaign, it seems even a naughty apple can turn its image around.

Besides, before the tale of that misbehaving couple surfaced, apples were Aphrodite’s fruit. The Greeks believed throwing an apple at someone was to symbolically declare one’s love. To catch the apple was to symbolically show one’s acceptance.

In Norse mythology, the goddess Iounn provided apples to the gods to give them eternal youthfulness.

We mortals still manage to age despite our heavy apple consumption, but the plump pomes still come in handy when battling scurvy, preventing heart disease, encouraging regularity and generally keeping the doctor away.

Plus, they’re sublime in pies or coated in caramel. They’re good in green and in red — but best, I think, when a subtle pink spreads across the skin like an embarrassed blush.

It’s no wonder apple festivals have sprouted in Maine like so many Tolman Sweets from a tree. The fruit has been good to us. And in return, people have no trouble indulging in apple appreciation.

Tributes come in all forms — apple-pie eating contests, bake sales, cider pressing, apple picking and apple-centric craft sales. But some festivals rise above the traditional.

The Manchester Apple Festival, taking place at Lakeside Orchards in Manchester from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 1, features some atypical apple events. Most notable is the Great Apple Race across Muck Pond.

Originally intended to be an imitation of the lobster crate race held during Rockland’s annual Lobster Festival — except using apple crates instead of lobster crates — organizers soon learned that the smaller apple crate didn’t quite work.

“They aren’t as big, and they don’t float as well. Everybody fell in,” said Doug Ide, Manchester Apple Festival event coordinator. “Everybody watching enjoyed seeing that.”

This year, they’re trying something different.

“We’re using other floating things,” Ide said. “People will have to transport apples across a floating obstacle course.”

Ide is building the contraption himself, and was otherwise vague on the details. But the course will be open to children and adults at no charge starting at 2:30 p.m. A prize package will be given to the Muck Pond competitor with the fastest time.

The festival will also include an accoutrement of apple-flinging that might offend some conservative apple fans. The apple launcher will be standing by throughout the event. Interested launchers can send an apple smashing into a target 150 feet away with the help of a giant sling shot. “They just have to pull and let it fly,” said Ide. The cost is $1 for three apples.

While apple peeling is a skill honed by the recipe-wielding bakers of the world, it’s also a talent that is showcased during an apple festival. Experienced peelers can compete in the apple-peeling contest (and are welcome to bring their own trusted utensil), and novices are welcome to give it a try. (Peelers provided. Bring your own Band-Aids).

Even the festival hay maze is more than just a stack of dried grass.

“The hay bail maze was designed by a mathematician,” said Ide. “It’s not your typical maze where you sort of find your way. There’s a certain way you have to approach the maze you have to actually think and strategize.”

And in true apple festival form, there must be a pie-eating contest — maybe even a pie-eating championship.

At 12:45 p.m., pie eaters are invited to go face-first into the flaky crust and apple insides of as many pies as possible. The winner will be hailed as a hero. Or at least applauded by those present.

The festival also includes a 5K road race, a parade, a baking contest, live music, a dunk tank and other activities, most of which are free.

The apple’s “minion of evil” reputation is all but forgotten — an association the apple is glad to get rid of.

On the other hand, the practice of launching love-seeking apples at the object of our affections seems worth revisiting.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at: [email protected]

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