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Odalens rollin' along with orchard, parade

Duane and Theresa Odalen expect a good apple crop this season at their Apple Ridge Orchard, two-and-a-half miles east of Hwy. 63 on CTH G. The Odalens will be grand marshals for the upcoming El Paso Days celebration parade. Last week, Duane Odalen held one of the plaques he’s received from participating in a Wisconsin Apple Growers Association contest as Theresa Odalen showed evidence of the crop. (Herald photo by Bill Kirk)

EL PASO—Duane and Theresa Odalen, who’ve made a livelihood from their Apple Ridge Orchard, are likely to make a lasting impression as the Grand Marshals for the El Paso Days celebration parade on Sunday, Aug. 17.

They will be riding the float that was designed and built by their children. The float will be a ride wagon pulled by a John Deere green tractor.

“There’s a seat for us to sit on up front,” Duane Odalen said Wednesday.

Their orchard, two-and-a-half miles east of Hwy. 63 on CTH G, was established in 1988 when they started planting its first trees. It’s on the farm that had once belonged to his parents, Arnold and Hazel, and previously his grandfather’s. He said the acreage was recognized as a Century Farm in 1982.

In 1988, the weather was extremely dry, he said. Duane’s father began using his father’s well to fill a 300-gallon tank on the back of a pickup truck with a garden hose for watering the first 250 trees planted that year, he said. The watering process took 45 minutes; it was later sped up.

“Then-Gov. Thompson allowed us to use the river,” Duane Odalen said

Because of his dad’s determination, not a single tree was lost.

Each year since ’88, trees have been added, now with a total of 2,500 trees and 20 varieties of apples.

“The last three years have been especially challenging,” the grower said, explaining three years ago the crop was early, in contrast to the last two, when it was much later. Due to an overabundance of rain plus a cold, lingering winter, many of the trees planted most recently are dying.

For more please read the Aug. 6 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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