By TAYLOR HARTZ
The 47th annual Apple Harvest Festival is just around the corner, and festival committee members have swung into full gear finalizing details, vendors and events.
This year’s theme encourages residents to promote “Growing Community Pride”
– and of course enjoying all things apple.
The two-weekend event will run Oct. 2 to 4 and Oct. 9 to 11, with no admission, entertainment or parking fees — providing free family fun for an estimated 100,000 visitors.
Jim Champagne, festival coordinator, said residents can look forward to “new foods and a different assortment of vendors” this year.
The traditional apple pie and apple fritter eating contests will take place on both Saturdays, and more than 60 vendors will fill the Bank of American parking lot for the Arts and Crafts Fair, followed by a new video presentation on the Gura Building.
“The stage is fully booked,” said Champagne, “the booths are sold out and the parade is just great.”
Festival Co-Chairman Tom Lombardi said he most enjoys getting “to see the community members come out and enjoy the last weekends of fall weather.”
Both Lombardi and Champagne said their fingers are crossed for good weather — the traditional bed races (scheduled for Oct. 3) have been cancelled three years in a row due to rain.
“We are hoping for this to be the best year in festival history,” said Lombardi.
Although the coordinator said he is always nervous until they make it through the festival’s first night, Lombardi praised Champagne’s organization of the festivals’ planning and scheduling.
“He just does a fantastic job every year,” said Lombardi, who said he has really grown to appreciate all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to help the tradition continue.
Champagne said he is looking forward to things running smoothly through the two weekends, “it’s going to be a great family event.”
The opening weekend will host a fireworks show on the evening of Oct. 3, sponsored by Alexia, followed by the annual parade filled with “community pride” floats and the 36th annual Apple Harvest Road Race 5 mile race run or 5k walk on Oct. 4.
Friday evenings have been designated as “Family Nights” – wristbands for carnival rides will be available for a discounted price, and will provide unlimited rides.
Apple fritters will be provided by the Zion Lutheran Church of Southington throughout the festival, and all six days will have a variety of musical entertainment and children’s activities.