With the start of October comes a longtime festival in Harford County, marking the coming of fall with crisp, ripe apples.
The 25th Annual Darlington Apple Festival is coming to the streets of Darlington on Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., bringing with it a wide variety of vendors, children's activities and of course, apple dishes.
The festival is held yearly right in Darlington and attracts approximately 60,000 people in that one day, according to Darlington Apple Festival Committee Chairwoman Elaine Calderon. The attendance is no surprise to her, either, for the free admission festival.
"It's an exciting day," Calderon said.
Weather plays into the attendance numbers, she added, but they still expect to see the same type of turnout.
Even though the festival is marketed as free admission, Calderon did point out their Stuff the Bus campaign, which asks attendees to donate non-perishable food items while at the Apple Festival. The signature blue bus will be behind the country store at the festival.
The food will be donated to the Harford County Food Bank. Parking costs $5, Calderon said, in the variety of parking lots throughout the area. The main one will be off Route 1 across from the High's and there will be a bus to shuttle people to the festival.
Dogs will not be permitted at the festival, Calderon added.
The otherwise free admission gets families entrance to a street festival packed with arts and craft vendors, live entertainment and a variety food.
Some of the most popular activities, according to Calderon, are the pony and hay rides, as well as the scarecrow making section for children. Another highlight, she added, is the apple pie contest.
The apple pie contest incorporates two types of pies, plain and crumb. Anyone can enter their homemade pie, cooled to room temperature, on a disposable pie plate and with the recipe attached, at the Darlington United Methodist Church on Shuresville Road between 9 and 10 a.m. the day of the festival.
The Darlington Apple Festival will also have live entertainment at the Hay Bale Auditorium, including Bridge 2819, the Gospel Travellers from John Wesley United Methodist Church, bluegrass band Across The Track and Ed Sager and Friends, according to the website.
There will be more than 100 craft vendors, Calderon added, and they usually attract 150 to 200 every year. These vendors are limited to handmade wares, like jewelry, flower arrangements, fabric purses and wood carvings.
"Our craft vendors are all handmade," she said, "so we don't allow the Thirty Ones or the Pampered Chef like that in."
The food will be typical festival dishes, Calderon said, including pizza, chicken, hot dogs, pit beef and "all kinds of snacks." Several of the stands will be manned by local churches, like the fish fry Calderon said is "out of this world," and apple-based baked goods.
Keyes Creamery, a Harford County farm, will be suppling homemade ice cream and other farmers will be bringing apples and flowers, she added.
Even though the Darlington Apple Festival is manned by a corresponding committee, Calderon made a point to acknowledge and thank all the residents who volunteer and donate "land, services, products and time."
Calderon encouraged visitors to come out on Oct. 1, calling it a "fantastic day in a great town."
For more information on the Darlington Apple Festival go to http://www.darlingtonapplefest.org.