By JEN CARDINES
Thousands swarmed the downtown area for the second weekend of the Apple Harvest Festival (AHF) for the craft fair, good eats, carnival rides, and live entertainment. The AHF team was fighting the weather again, but all of the entertainment and events went off for week two.
AHF operations coordinator Paul Champagne said he wasn’t surprised by the turnout. “You know, it’s the only festival in the state that has free parking and admission,” he said.
Saturday, on the main stage, the second installment of the apple pie and fritter eating contests drew many hungry contestants and a cheerful audience.
Behind the stage, 67 vendors set up their booths for the annual craft fair, with everything from kitchen gadgets, jewelry, handbags, pet products, sweet treats, fall crafts, hair care, and more. Visitors had the opportunity to watch live demonstrations of products, get their hair braided by students of the Paul Mitchell school, make their own jewelry, and get a jump start on Christmas shopping.
“There’s an excellent variety of vendors and product offerings,” said arts and crafts chair Tracey Bentz.
“There was a very large turnout and great crowds,” said AHF coordinator Jim Champagne.
In the newly refurbished Gura Building, SoCCA hosted Harvest the Arts for the first time. “It was always held outdoors, but with the new facility, it made sense to bring it in here,” said SoCCA executive director Mary DeCroce.
Saturday’s full schedule included a performance by the Plainville Wind Ensemble, community projects held on the upper level, and individual workshops with a songwriter. “You go in, write a song with her, record it, and get to take the recording home on a CD,” said DeCroce. Just outside of the building, a man sat creating pottery all afternoon.
For a good portion of the day, the line for the Zion Lutheran apple fritter booth stretched all the way to Town Hall. The fritters are a staple of the festival, and many people come from near and far to get their fix.
Later in the afternoon, Bad Moon Risin, the Creedence/Fogerty Tribute Band hit the stage with a two hour set to provide the crowd with live entertainment.
The festival officially closed Sunday at 2 p.m. due to the rain.
Here are the contest results from Saturday, Oct. 8.
Apple Pie Eating
Ages 7–17: Jake Gorham came in first place, followed by his sister Kristen Gorham in second. Nick Voelko took third.
18 and over–Paul Colon Jr. took first, with Ben Baskin in second and Dan Novak in third.
Apple Fritter Eating
Ages 7-11–Ryan Ogren in first, Nick Marino in second and Trenton Laframboise in third.
12-17–Lorenzo Reyes took first place, with Spencer Laframboise trailing in second, and Daejah Graves in third.
18 and Over–David Harnois, who is from San Diego, entered the contest and took first place. He was followed by Nick Gilbert in second and Bridget Germain in third.