Important fall dates are fast approaching as summer continues to fly by. We recommend leaving the weekend of September 16th open for the Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival, where just $6.00 or less will get you in the door and on your way to having a blast! We interviewed Darla McCrary to find out why this festival should be on everyone’s to-do list this September. Enjoy!
What distinguishes you from other fall festivals?
“It’s one of the largest festivals in the area. This is our 42nd year; we’ve added a lot of new elements and activities to the festival. This is our third year being at the Frederick County Fairgrounds because we outgrew the Jim Barnett Park in Winchester. All of the different activities… we’re fun for the whole family, and that includes pets!”
What can attendees expect when they come to the Festival this September?
“The SPCA will be there along with a canine obstacle course, which is really fun! There’s some trained animals that they bring in, you know, that kind of put on a show, and then they welcome people to bring their own pets in through the tunnels and over the obstacle course, so that’s always fun.”
“We are going to have everything apple: apple dumplings, apple pie… we have an apple pie baking contest, [and then] we also have an apple pie eating contest!” Awards and prizes will be given out to winners!
“We also have other entertainment – we have a band out of Nashville called Liberty Pike that’s doing country for us! We’ll also have Mojo Mothership, they’re a great blues band, really welcomed here locally! And then of course Robbie Limon is always a good finish on Sunday. He does all of the local, contemporary top 40, kinda 70s 80s 90s hits. He’s always a good draw.”
This festival, described as “fun for the whole family,” really does try to reach every age. Along with bands and apple foodie fun, there will be inflatables, face painting, a Zorb ball, giant slides, and tons of other stuff (all at no extra charge) for the little ones! They also offer senior and military discounts, and children under 6 get in free!
She goes on to explain their vendors: “Of course we have crafters, we’ve always had crafters. That was our heritage, being an arts and crafts festival. We’ll have anywhere between 80-100 crafters,” ranging from things like homemade wreaths, hand painted signs, handcrafted jewelry, pottery, alpaca-wear, and pretty much everything else under the artisanal sun.
What brings people back, year after year?
“Well, the consistency of the festival! They know that we’re always going to have the old standby of everything apple… the weather’s usually nice. We’re always the third week in September, so you can always depend on the weather being pretty decent. Bu we’re always adding new things too! We had an increase in attendance when we began to allow pets! People love their pets.”
“Being a rotary club, everything we do we give back to the community. Over the life of the festival, we’ve raised over a million dollars that has gone directly back into the community.” That’s no number to scoff at, and just the fact that the money raised goes back to the community reflects a conscientious crew with good hearts.
What is the most memorable year for you? What made it special?
“Well, three years ago we made the move from Jim Barnett Park to the Frederick County Fairgrounds… and that was probably the most memorable [for me personally]. Just looking at the amount of people who got behind it, and we were getting a little push back from people, “Oh that’s too far for Winchester people!” But it must be reasonable as the Festival is just as popular, if not more so.
Make sure to set aside time out of your schedule to check out this event! Even after 42 years of apple harvest fun, I guarantee the festival will still find a way to surprise you.