APPLE HILL (CBS13) – Apple Hill is one of the region’s biggest fall tourist attractions, but it almost didn’t exist.

The town of Camino, in El Dorado County, used to grow pears. According to the Apple Hill Growers Association, farmers grew 52 thousand tons of pears in 1958 but a pear blight wiped out much of the crops by the mid-sixties.

A local former, Gene Bolster, and El Dorado County’s agricultural commissioner, Ed Delfino, spearheaded an effort to change the chief crop in the region from pears to apples. They, along with two others, then formed the Apple Hill Growers Association in 1964, which included 16 ranchers.

One of the first events the region hosted, according to the groups’ website, was a press picnic in order to get the word out about the newly formed Apple Hill. They also distributed 50 thousand paper bags at the 1964 California State Fair. The bags had a map of participating farms and anyone who brought the bags back to Apple Hill that fall got two free pounds of apples.

This year there are 47 “farm” destinations selling apples, pumpkins, Christmas trees, lavender, and wine, along with a few bed and breakfasts and day spas.