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Family and community remember the life and legacy of Bayfield Apple Fest founder Jim Erickson

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BAYFIELD, WI. -- The founder of Bayfield’s Apple Festival and patriarch of Erickson’s Orchard & Country Store died Sunday at the age of 90.

"Everybody knew Jimmy Erickson," said Fred Erickson, Jim's son and Owner and operator of Erickson Orchards and Country Store.

Jim Erickson and his wife Muriel took over their rural Bayfield farm back in 1954.

"Dad just had a way with people. From the Iron Range to southern Wisconsin, to wherever. You could mention Erickson Orchard and Jimmy Erickson and they will say I've been there and I know your dad," said Erickson.

The founder of Bayfield's Apple Fest, which brings upwards of 60,000 people to the area every year, passed away Sunday at the age of 90.

"One of the things my dad always taught me was if you are happy with what you do, it's not work," said Erickson.

And now, those closest to him, are remembering the farmer, and the man he was.

"When he left this earth on Sunday night, he knew that he left a legacy instilled in myself and my sisters to continue on this farm," said Erickson.

And it's clear Erickson's legacy will live on for many more generations, as they enjoy the traditions he started.

"We have generational families that have been coming here for forty to fifty years and now their kids are bringing their kids," said Erickson.

And it's all because of the love and energy Erickson had when it came to his work and community.

"He was just such a great promoter of all things Bayfield and especially apples. Something that you are so passionate about is really important to continue on and keep promoting and that's exactly what Jim did," said Paige Rautio, Marketing Director, Bayfield Chamber, and Visiting Bureau.

A passion and drive he's clearly passed onto his kids.

"It's not about the money, it's not about anything else but it's about our legacy we leave for the next generation and that they will want to do the same thing that we did," said Erickson.

A celebration of life will take place Friday with a fish fry with family and some of his closest charter fishing friends.

The family tells us Erickson Orchards and Country Store will be closed on Friday but will be open Saturday.

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Ryan Compeau

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