By SHERIDAN CYR
The first weekend of the 49th Apple Harvest Festival kicked off Friday night on the Town Green at the main stage with live music and some announcements from members of the many committees that make the Festival happen.
Week one’s events include the Granny Apple contest, apple pie and fritter eating contests, the parade, fireworks and annual road races. A large variety of vendors line up and down the Green, and the sounds of the carnival rides combined with the aroma of baked apples let residents know it’s that time of year in Southington again.
This year’s parade, led by Grand Marshall Lowell DePalma of the Southington Police Dept., attracted thousands of viewers with over 60 organizations participating in marching.
Each year, parade floats are presented to a panel of judges, and winners are picked for specific categories:
Church Group Float winner was Faith Living Church, carrying a band and followed by singers.
Civic Group Float winner was Polish Falcons, carrying the “Polish Pierogi King” and fairy tale creatures.
School Group Float winner was Thalberg Elementary, with PTA members and students dressed in farmer garb.
Youth Group Float winner was Cyber Knights, with a robot shooting hoops and beach balls.
Chairman Theme winner was Derynoski Elementary, sporting the Apple Dumpling theme with chefs and bushels of apples.
High School Band winner was HillHouse High School, with a frantically dancing band leader and students boasting their tunes.
Drum Corp winner was CT Alumni Senior Drum Corp, drumming up the crowd. Middle School Marching Band winner was DePaolo, playing “Louie, Louie” to their audience.
Committee members, volunteers, hostesses and sponsors circulated the event all throughout the weekend. Preparing the festival is a year-round process.
“Once we finally opened up on Friday night, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” said Festival Operations chair Paul Champagne.
Champagne said he was pleased with the first weekend of the Festival. “The Festival was very well attended during the first weekend, and everything went smoothly,” he said, adding that vendors were impressed with the turnout.
“This is the only fair that we know of in New England that still operates with no admission fee and no parking fee,” added Champagne. He reported that police estimated attendance of 75,000 to 90,000 between both weekends. “For an event of that capacity, we are very proud.”
Marion resident, Osita Obuekwe, shared his experiences as he visited with his son for the eighth year in a row.
“For my son, it is always a great social setting for him to see his current school mates from the High School and old school mates from Middle and Elementary School,” said Obuekwe.
Some of his favorite parts of the festival were the live band “Le-Miss” who played Motown hits at the opening on Friday night, and the food.
“The apple fritters come nice and hot as you pay for them. I can tell you that the apple fritters attract the longest line of commodities in demand at the Festival every year,” said Obuekwe.
Looking ahead at the second weekend, the carnival and vendors will still be coloring the streets around the Green. Hungry festival-goers will have a second chance in round two of the apple pie and fritter eating contests on Saturday on the main stage at 12 and 1 p.m. Live music will continue throughout the weekend, too.
Arts and Crafts
The annual Arts and Crafts show at the Festival has something to offer for everyone. It starts during week two, and goes from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
This year, over 50 vendors will be setting up shop behind the main stage in the Bank of America parking lot.
“These vendors sell a wide range of items, from furniture, to Christmas decorations, to dog biscuits and much more,” said Tracey Bentz, coordinator of the show. “The vendors all have something so unique to them.”
Bentz said that there is always something new to look forward to, and this year is no different. With new vendors being added year after year, the craft fair is a diverse staple in the Festival.
For a map of the arts and crafts area, click below:
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.