Illinois apple cider makers will again get a chance to see who the best in the state is. After a successful run last January, the Annual Cider Contest and the Annual Hard Cider Contest will again be hosted at the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference in Springfield, Jan. 6-8, 2016 and will be sponsored by the Illinois State Horticulture Society.

Illinois contestants will compete against other Illinois producers for the Illinois State awards. Illinois ciders makers will also have the opportunity to submit their best ciders to challenge the out-of-state entries for the North American and Midwest Awards. Midwest awards are open to states surrounding and including Illinois, and North American awards are open to all cider makers in North America. For the Apple Cider Contest, contestants are asked to submit a one-gallon full container of unclarified apple cider that may be fresh or have been stored frozen.
Those making hard apple cider will want to get started now in order to have the maximum amount of fermentation time. Make sure your product is hard apple cider, not hard apple cider wine. Although there is no definite break or definition where hard apple cider stops and where wine starts, we are looking for a hard apple cider product with alcohol content below 8 percent. Hard apple ciders containing other fruit flavoring, such as pear, cherry, peach, or cranberry will not be considered for judging. Hard apple cider contestants are asked to submit a one-quart, but no more than a one-gallon, container of product for the hard apple cider-judging contest.
Registration for all apple cider contests will be on Jan. 7, from 8 – 9:45 a.m. Judging will commence at 10 a.m. The fee will be $10 per entry for each contest with one entry per orchard and/or farm family. Awards will be announced during the dinner banquet on Thursday, Jan. 7. Entry forms can be found at: For additional information, contact Elizabeth Wahle, Cider Contest Coordinator at; 618-344-4230.