By Andy Massanet, Fort Riley Public AffairsSeptember 16, 2016
Fort Riley, Kan. -- More than 12,000 neighbors, friends and supporters of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley visited the post on a sunny and mild Sept. 10 for the annual Fall Apple Day Festival.
This year's event was the third consecutive year for Ron Stewart, program manager for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, as well as the event coordinator for the Fall Apple Day Festival, and it may be getting easier for him, though such a thought is a bit unsettling.
"This one was a little scary because everything seemed easier," Stewart said. "And when it seems easy I get very nervous."
Going through the steps this year with the ease he mentioned gave Stewart pause: Did he forget some thing or not?
Judging from the results, much of which is pictured on this special section, Stewart need not have worried. Fort Riley's Artillery Parade Field was filled with activities for youngsters of all ages.
The events included pie eating contests, a variety of performances on stage, wagon rides and cavalry demonstrations by the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard, Military Working Dog Team demonstrations by a team from the 523rd Military Working Dog Detachment, the 97th Military Police Battalion, Bungee tramps and a rock climbing wall for the stout of heart and food and beverages at unbeatable prices.
Most important, this year's Fall Apple day event was marked by pride in the nation's 1st Infantry Division, "The Big Red One," which is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2017.
That was also a pride that Brig. Gen. Patrick Frank, deputy commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, aimed to instill in the days leading up to the festival.
"(Brig. Gen.) Frank did an awesome, awesome walkthrough," Stewart said. "He talked to everybody. He talked to Soldiers who were involved and made them understand the importance of interacting with the public and telling their own personal stories. That they (today's Big Red One Soldiers) -- like the Soldiers of World War II, Vietnam and other conflicts -- are part of the history of this division. And we could tell that they were getting what Brig. Gen. Frank was saying."
Meanwhile, just outside the pie tent, pie queen Jane MacDougall, spouse of Col. Mark MacDougall, Chief of Nursing Officer at Irwin Army Community Hospital, was not able at that time to determine how many pies had been sold up to that point.
"The sales seem to be good as of now," MacDougall said. "But we came in with 1,504 pies."
Before the day was done, all the pies sold out. But MacDougall was overjoyed about the level of volunteer support from the volunteers of Historical and Archeological Society of Fort Riley, and members of Junction City High School's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps class of 2016.
"They were so helpful, especially during the evening hours when we really needed them the most," MacDougall said.