Thousands gather to bite and snack on apples at Darlington festival

Hundreds of license plates from as far as New York and New Jersey lined the streets of the village as thousands ventured to the 26th annual Darlington Apple Festival Saturday.

The unusual warm October weather and sunshine brought crowds of people into the town for a fun, filled day of apples, apples and more apples.


One vendor, Brenda Holloway, co-owner of Wilson Mill Orchard, said the warm weather created a larger turnout than usual at the event. She said hundreds of people were buying her crisp golden delicious, sun crisp and sammy boys apples.

"We've been doing the festival about 13 years and the turnout varies with the weather," Holloway said. "It's kind of the last big bang of the season."

Holloway said a lot of the markets for farms are ending now that summer's gone and the Darlington Apple Festival allows her farm, which she co-owns with her husband, Henry, to sell a lot of their produce. She said her farm brought at least 40 bushels of apples to the festival.

"The honey crisp apples are all gone; they are just the best apples," Holloway said about two hours into the festival.

Holloway said the rest of their apples, which aren't made into cider, is sold to the Harford County Public Schools through a local produce initiative.

Brad Weaver, of Castle Creek Farm in Dillsburg, Pa., traveled miles to sell his local, family-made apple butter, apple jelly and apple dumplings during the festival.

"We got here at three or four in the morning to set up," Weaver said, pointing to his wife and two sons who were helping him at his booth. "We don't do Sunday sales so it is nice to have a show that is just on Saturday."

Weaver said his family filled a truck and a trailer full of goods for the festival. He said he also brought crafts and goods created by other Amish families and a Mennonite family from Pennsylvania to sell.

Elizabeth Mack, 38, of Aberdeen, stood out in the nearly 36,000 attendees at the festival. She wore a Victorian style hand-made floor length red gown.

"I make my own clothes because I am two different sizes," Mack said.

Mack said she is a newbie to the apple festival and was dragged out by her adopted mom.

"I'm really enjoying myself," Mack said as she showed her purchases from the festival. "I have molasses and hot sauce."

People wiggled and danced to the musical stylings of several different acts during the festival. But most of the children seemed to prefer the heavy beats and drums of the Harford and Cecil County-based rock band, One Eyed Jack.

Jada Wessel, 5, of Bel Air, rocked back on a hay stack while enjoying ice cream with her grandmother, Beverly.


"I got a smoothie and I wanted to get on the ponies and get my face painted," the young girl said.

Other young kids enjoyed the arts and crafts portion of the festival. Brothers Christopher, 12, and Ayden Boyd, 9, stuffed a large scarecrow that it took the two of them to carry.

"It's fun to do as a family," the younger brother said.

Youth Minister Ralph Batykefer, said his church, Oakwood Baptist, has been hosting the scarecrow making arts and crafts section for the past six or seven years. He said proceeds from the scarecrows fund youth local and international youth-led mission trips. Youth from Oakwood Baptist travel as far as Guatemala for missions trips.

"I think it's just an activity people love doing together as a family," Batykefer said. "We're going to keep doing it because we love it."

The festival also gets pretty competitive as the annual apple pie baking contest has tons of locals grabbing their aprons and family recipes.

While Martina Burger, of Churchville, did not take home the gold medal, the first time pie baking contestant, surprised everyone, including her husband by winning second place.

"I almost didn't make it here because I didn't have the $5 for parking," Burger said. "My husband said it was no way my recipe would out-do his mothers, and look... I won second."