Rip another page off the calendar — September has now arrived.

In past years, the first part of September brought about changes that signified that fall was here: School started and kids were seen going back to the area school buildings; the opening of football season was just days away and you would read in the news about the DeForest Norski and Badger players gearing up for their first games of the season; families finished up their summer vacations that usually ended with big plans for the Labor Day weekend.

It’s definitely different this year. School in DeForest and in many parts of the country will start virtually. Instead of heading back to school, kids will be turning on their computers at home to get their lessons via the internet. There will be no extra traffic due to school buses, bikes and kids walking back to school. Opening day of school will seem more like any other late summer day around area schools.

The Big 10 and Badger Conference canceled all popular fall sports — no football, volleyball or cross country. A lot of questions remain as to the future of these sports. The National Football League is still sticking to their plan to play out the coming season with no non-conference games this year. There seems to be a lot of uncertainty as to how this will play out.

So the Norskies and Badgers are not practicing, but the Packers are moving ahead getting ready to start the season on Sept. 13.

Family vacations were different this past summer. Many families just stayed at home and hoped they will be able to travel more freely next summer. Some families took shorter vacations closer to home. It seemed like the state and county parks were popular destinations this summer. RV sales were soaring. It appears that many families are looking forward to RV camping for future vacations.

This column was written before the Labor Day weekend and many Labor Day festivities have been canceled or they would be severely altered to meet COVID-19 regulations. I plan to just stay in DeForest as I have done for most of the summer. Senior citizens in particular have been pretty well grounded the past six months.

Most apple orchards in the area opened up about mid-August this year. My favorite apple cider comes from Lapacek’s Orchard on Kronke Road in the Leeds area. They squeeze their own cider and it’s unpasteurized which makes the taste unbelievably good. I usually make two or three trips to their orchard every year for the cider and I’m on their mailing list so I get their regular emails.

I got the first email on Aug. 13 saying that they were opening for the year on that date. The 2020 season looks to be very different for the family run business. They could not open for business unless they agreed to follow the strict COVID-19 policy.

Following are some of the main points of the policy:

Masks Are Always Required in the store — both customers and employees.

Pre-order On Line. Place your order the day before you plan to come out. When you arrive at your appointed time, your order will be ready to pickup. No browsing through the store, looking over the many selections of apples. Allow at least one day for your placed order to be filled. No same day orders and pickup.

Playgrounds Are Closed. In previous years I always thought it was great that they had some playground equipment by the store so the kids could play outside while the adults shopped in the store.

No Samples. Sorry, free samples of apples are not allowed.

Shop Open To 20 Customers At A Time. Respect the floor markings to maintain social distancing. If there are 20 persons in the shop, please wait outside until someone leaves. Make all visits as brisk as possible and don’t forget, face masks are required.

All Special Event Days Are Canceled. Special events like Kraut Days and Hand Crafted Hoedown for the Holidays will not be held this year.

According to the email sent out about two weeks after the opening, customers have been following the new rules and the Lapaceks are thankful for that.

It’s a shame that a small family run business has to change around their whole operation to follow rigid rules. I’m sure they will lose some business from families who used to come out to the orchard and probably spend an hour or two on a family outing. They will be unable to do this with the strict rules in place.

Well Lapaceks, I still plan to come out for my apple cider and a small bag or two of your great tasting apples. So I guess I will have to follow the rules.

Dick Emerson is the former publisher of the DeForest Times-Tribune

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