CHARLEVOIX — The old saying, “It’s as American as apple pie” certainly holds true of the 35th annual Apple Fest in Charlevoix Friday through Sunday, Oct. 11-13. The popular event shines a light on the humble apple. More than 30 varieties of the fruit will be on hand. The festivities will line Bridge Street with a peek at apple growers and orchards from the area. Other fall harvest items such as pumpkins, squash, chrysanthemums, jam, jelly, honey, maple syrup, pies and cider will be for sale as well.
“The concept of the apple festival began with the Charlevoix Chamber Retail Committee and its desire to create a fall shoulder season event,” explained Shelly Ferguson, the finance and festival manager at the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce. “That first year, the chamber set up a booth in East Park and sold homemade apple pies (in the rain). Since then it has grown by leaps and bounds and includes 125 art and craft booths, five major orchards, and a variety of nonprofit and farm market booths, children’s activities, Apple Fest T-shirts and community spirit.”
“This has been a really nice growing season for fruit farmers, and a nice growing season means high quality fruit,” added Sara McGuire owner of Royal Farms in Atwood. “Of course there are a lot of new varieties available to consumers. In the last few years we have introduced Zestars, Candycrisp, Crimson crisp, and Dandee Reds. We also continue to grow many of the favorite old standbys, Galas, Cortlands, Empires just to name a few. Our most popular apple is the Honeycrisp and that crop looks great.”
There are a few new things this year adding to the old tradition. The Charlevoix County 4-H Program will host the petting zoo this year. The 4-H kids will be available during the event to talk about their animals and answer questions. The children’s activities will be located in Bridge Park and include pony rides, pumpkin painting and face painting.
Another new twist added to the festival is that Charlevoix has been selected as one of the cities to be represented on the Prayer Canvas as it makes its way across America. The Prayer Canvas is a grass-roots project to honor the Boston Marathon bombing victims and survivors. The project creates a symbol of America including big cities, small towns and every walk of life. Each state will be represented. People are invited to write a prayer, message, symbol, name or paint a picture on the Charlevoix canvas on display in the park during Apple Fest. Once the tour is completed, all the canvases will be sewn together and the Prayer Canvas is expected to be at least the size of a football field. It will be presented to the city of Boston on the anniversary of the bombings. Each victim will receive a mounted portion of the canvas and the remainder will hopefully hang in a city building as a memorial to the heroes and victims who were impacted that day.
The Apple Fest Family Fun Run on Saturday morning is another part of the celebration. It includes a 1-mile run starting at 9 a.m. and a 5K which starts at 9:20 a.m. These untimed races include obstacles along the course. The Charlevoix State Bank sponsors this event which benefits Charlevoix Kiwanis Youth Foundation and promises goodies, prizes and fun for everyone. Those interested may register online at www.active.com or find out more at www.charlevoixkiwanis.org.
“It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining, the rain is falling, or a blizzard is blowing through town. People dress for the weather and come out to enjoy the festival and all it has to offer. I’ve even noticed that the worse the conditions, the bigger the smiles from festival goers. After all, it’s October in Northern Michigan. You’ve got to be ready for anything,” Ferguson said.
“The apple festival has always been and always will be a community focused event. Only local orchards, farmers, and nonprofits are invited to participate in the fall harvest festivities. Because of this, our nonprofit organizations are able to raise money and awareness for their causes, and area farmers and orchards have the opportunity to offer their bounty to consumers from throughout Michigan and the surrounding states. All of this takes place in the heart of downtown Charlevoix amid our diverse shops, services and restaurants,” she added.
Warm foods such as chili, hot dogs, apple flappers, kielbasa, french fries will be served by local organizations. A holiday arts and crafts show in East Park will feature 125 booths. Many activities will be offered for children including face painting by the members of the Charlevoix High School art department, pony rides by Liberty Valley Ranch, and petting zoo hosted by the Charlevoix County 4-H Program will be creating excitement one block north at Bridge Park.
For more information contact the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce at (231) 547-2101 or www.charlevoix.org.