The planning is set. The volunteers are ready. The tents have gone up, and the queen has been crowned. Now comes the fun part.
We have really enjoyed the preparations for this weekend as the town gets ready to open the gates for the 50th Apple Harvest Festival. This one was special for us, too. We hope you’ve enjoyed the Apple Harvest Festival coverage provided by Southington staff writer Sheridan Cyr. She’s been pouring through old Observers and researching past festivals, and we’ve enjoyed the sort of behind-the-scenes Apple Harvest parade of current and past town officials that have filed into our office on Spring Street. We’ve enjoyed reminiscing about past festivals and dreaming about what’s in store for the future.
It made us laugh when we read an Observer editorial for an early festival, and a former editor made the brash prediction that one day the Southington Apple Harvest festival would rival Bristol’s Mum Festival or the Berlin and Danbury fairs. It must have seemed like an improbable task. After all, Southington was a small town of about 30,000 people when the first Apple Harvest parade stretched across the town green. Back in 1969, Bristol (55,000) and Danbury (40,000) dwarfed us in population and in the festival community. But as the town has grown, so has the festival.
Danbury held their last fair in 1981, and the fairgrounds have been transformed into a commercial mall. Bristol’s Mum Festival, once a behemoth compared to Southington’s Apple Harvest Festival, has struggled in recent years. Of the three festivals that served as measuring sticks in those early years, only the Berlin Fair continues to rival Southington’s fair, but after 50 years, the Apple Harvest Festival is just as renowned. After 50 events, Southington’s festival has now become one of the measuring sticks for other Connecticut town festivals. We can’t wait to see what the next half century brings.
We’d like to thank everyone that helped us, especially AHF coordinator Melissa Cocuzza, Lisa Jannson from the Southington Chamber of Commerce and the Southington Historical Society, AHF Committee chairs Chris Palmieri and Tom Lombardi, and Town Manager Mark Sciota. The coverage wouldn’t have been possible without their help.
We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed the research. Join us at our booth in front of town hall. We will have Sheridan’s stories on display.
It’s hard to believe that this is the 50th festival, and it’s even harder to believe that the two-weekend event is still growing after 50 years. Take a look at our special insert for all the maps, information, and schedules that you’ll need to navigate the tent city. Check out the letter from the festival coordinator and the questions and answers from the hosts and hostesses.
Finally, we’d like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Champagne family. Rosemary Champagne was such a big part of the community and the local festival. She was a source of strength and joy for so many of the town’s residents and a treasure to the festival. She was such a big part of making this festival what it is, and she will be missed. We are glad that she and her family were selected as this year’s grand marshals. Who else could it be?
To comment on this story or to contact Southington Observer editor John Goralski, email him at JGoralski@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Observer coverage of the 50th anniversary festival