By Elijah Ezeji-Okoye

For a short time in Watsonville’s earlier history, autumn was marked by the coming of the Apple Annual.  In the early 1900s, the city’s apple industry burgeoned, with new orchards, packinghouses, and shipping centers cropping up across the city.  Citing the success of an event that had come to his attention in Oregon, E. A. Hall, President of the Watsonville Board of Trade, began lobbying his fellow board members in 1908 for their support of Watsonville’s very own Apple Annual. 

Within two years, the Apple Annual blossomed from many of the same seeds as the rest of Watsonville’s history.  The Apple Annual Association was formed, comprising Otto Stoesser, A. W. Cox, J. W. Kavanaugh, E. A. Hall, and J. A. Linscott.  The hall for the event, which needed to house the trademark displays for the show, was designed by William Weeks and sat where the Watsonville fire station does today.  Enormous flags were crafted by the Native Daughters of the Golden West, and other merchants in the area created posters, buttons, postcards, and other souvenirs to be sold as memorabilia for the city’s fledgling event. 

The first Apple Annual kicked off in 1910 to the tune of 30,000 attendees.  People flocked in to see the apple exhibitions as well as the parade of cars and wagons decorated in the fruit.  The event grew over the years to include poultry shows, elections of the Apple Queen, and other fanfare.  However, by 1914, Watsonville’s Apple Annual had become subsumed by a statewide event held in San Francisco, at which Watsonville’s harvest could be showcased.  Unfortunately, the Apple Annual’s first stint in Watsonville was short-lived, as it came into bloom around the start of World War I.  With the export market hit hard, the Apple Annual withered after the 1915 iteration.