Virtual Apple Fest a Real Success
According to the dictionary, the definition of the word virtual is “not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.” The COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive shift of the 2020 Ruthven Apple Festival from a live event to a virtual one and it has proven to be successful. Although at times it was an anxious process for event organizers, the use of technology and social media channels made it easy to deliver a number of festival-like experiences online. Cooking classes, a classic car show, a vendors market, pie and art auctions, and Apple Festival merchandise sales were enjoyed by festival-goes from the comfort of their living room.

With forty years of tradition, the festival has brought thousands of people together in support of Community Living Essex County, with proceeds going toward maintaining and purchasing accessible vehicles for people with intellectual disabilities to more fully participate in community. We were so pleased to receive the support of so many local businesses, community partners and dignitaries from across Essex County. The festival was kicked off with what has become an annual tradition, the Apple Peeling Contest. Only this year, it was held via Zoom. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos successfully defended his apple peeling title, edging out fellow Mayors from Essex County.

As the largest annual fundraising event for Community Living Essex County, hosted by Colasanti's Tropical Gardens, the challenge was not only to recreate elements of the festival in a virtual format but to continue to raise money. The planning committee thought, if you can't go to the festival, the festival can come to you in the form of “Apple Festival in a Basket”. The baskets, each filled with a variety of items representative of the festival, including local apples, jams, syrups, popcorn, candy apples and more, became the bestseller and fundraising backbone of the event with all baskets selling out in only four days. In addition to the baskets, online orders for apple pies and souvenir Apple Fest items like mugs and t-shirts, along with participation in online art and pie auctions, were big hits. Despite it being a virtual event, the 2020 Ruthven Apple Festival continued to receive strong support from local sponsors and media.

Thanks to our staff, volunteers and communities across Essex County for making the 2020 Virtual Ruthven Apple Festival a “real” success. 
Extraordinary Times for Extraordinary Families
Kelly Runnalls, Parent Consultant, Ensemble

Families are settling in for what is appearing to be a “long-haul” with the COVID-19 pandemic and are dealing with all that it entails. After a long spring and summer of lockdown orders, many families are returning to some semblance of normalcy as students return to school, many more of us return to work, but many families are still experience disruptions as their children are not returning to school, or their adult family members have been unable to return to their routines of day supports, community supports, among others. For many of our Ensemble families the loss of these vital supports has impacted themselves and their family member.  As we try to adapt to all these changes, we struggle to keep disruption to our families to a minimum and ensure that we continue to support our family members to have the best life possible, while remaining diligent for our health and safety, the health of our family members and our community. What a Herculean task that seems to have been thrust upon us as we navigate all this! Despite all we have done, and continue to do, our family members continue to be impacted as we deal with greater challenges and more restrictions and changes.

At Ensemble, we are hearing from so many families who are still waiting for the long promised COVID-19 Disability Payment, and yet we still do not know when that will occur. We are also hearing from families who have concerns about school, finding respite and support, families looking for more information about supported decision making, guardianship, micro-boards, having a family member with a disability in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, and other questions and concerns. 

At Ensemble we want to assure all of you that we will continue to provide support, information and help you to make connections, and continue to navigate through these extraordinary times. If you have not registered for our monthly information newsletter, please consider doing so that we can keep you up to date with all the virtual happenings and supports for families. If you go the bottom of our website,, you will find a link to subscribe to our newsletter.  We are also active on Facebook, where we update with new information for families continually.  These virtual connections are current substitutes for in-person connections, and we will do our best to provide as many opportunities and information about virtual opportunities, until we can meet in person once again. 
New Day Maintaining Connections Amid the Pandemic
New Day is a group of people who have intellectual disabilities, who believe that ALL people have the right to be treated as equal citizens within their community.  New Day is committed to informing and teaching others about rights, responsibilities and how to advocate for themselves.  Members try to inspire people to believe in themselves and keep their minds open to new possibilities. Meetings tend to focus on advocacy, sharing agency news and bringing awareness about disability related topics occurring locally, nationally and globally. Come out and see what it’s all about. 

Meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd TUESDAY of every month, from 6-8pm, using MS Teams. The next Virtual Meeting is Tuesday, Oct 6 from 6-8pm.  
To receive the meeting link, send New Day an email at

Virtual Events - Explore The African Safari
Join expert guide and photographer, Munya, on a virtual Safari. Introducing you to Hwange National Park and Zimbabwe, Munya will describe the pickup location, safety guidelines, the environment, and the animals you're likely to see. Click below to join the excitement October 7th at 7 PM.
Stay Active and Enjoy The Beauty of Autumn
Without the heat and humidity, outdoor workouts become much more comfortable and, after a busy summer, many of us are ready to get back to some sort of fitness routine. Fall offers some of the best conditions for outdoor workouts.

Walking is just about the easiest way to exercise outside and a great way to get in some extra movement throughout the day. With cooler weather, you don't have to worry about sweating as much, so that may make it more appealing to get out and get moving. All you really need is a good pair of walking shoes and perhaps some fall weather gear to keep you warm, dry and protected.

Fall is a great time to go hiking. With cool weather, less bugs and of course, magnificent views. Plus, hiking burns mega-calories as you increase your elevation and really work those legs. If you do hike, you'll want to make sure you have the right equipment like hiking boots, and a way to stay hydrated.

Fall is probably the best time of year for running outdoors. It's not too hot, not too cold and watching the leaves change colors each time you head outside can make each workout a new adventure. The real key to making fall running more comfortable is to dress in layers so you don't get too hot or too cold. 
Recipe of the Week
Serve piping hot with a big piece of crusty bread, this creamy, nourishing butternut squash soup recipe is fall comfort food at its best.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Poll Question
What is your favourite part of the fall season?
Pumpkin flavoured drinks
Apple/pumpkin picking
My fall wardrobe
The holidays this season
Poll Results

What is the name of the Ruthven Apple Festival Mascot?

Allie the Apple 6.5%
Apple Jack 10.9%
Ruthie Van Apple 76.1%
Johnny Apple 6.5%

The correct answer is: Ruthie Van Apple