SOUTHINGTON - The 48th annual Apple Harvest Festival, which opens for its first weekend this Friday, will feature a variety of entertainment, fritter and pie contests and road races for all ages.
A tent city has formed on the town green and Riccio way as 80 vendors, the largest in the festival’s history, prepare to open booths at the free-to-enter festival.
“There has been a lot of excitement for this year’s festival,” said Jim Champagne, festival coordinator for the past nine years. “Our Facebook page has received more than 9,000 likes and our phones have been ringing every five minutes.”
The free-to-enter festival will be held downtown surrounding Main Street Sept. 30 from 5 to 9 p.m., Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Oct. 2 from noon to 7 p.m. as well as Oct. 7 from 5 to 9 p.m., Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Oct. 9 from noon to 5 p.m.
Entertainment on the festival’s opening day, Friday Sept. 30, will include grand opening ceremonies from 5:30 to 6 p.m., a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for Southington Community Cultural Arts from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and Rock Landing performing from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday Oct. 1, Miss Cindy’s Dance Center will perform from 11 to 11:30 a.m., followed by a contest to see who can eat an apple pie the fastest from noon to 12:30 and a contest to see who can eat the most of Zion Lutheran Church’s famous apple fritters from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Jake Kulak and the LowDown will then perform from 4 to 5:30 p.m., followed by Soul Sound Revue from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Champagne noted that the pies will be donated by Price Chopper and that the record to beat for the fritter eating contest is 18. The winners of both eating contests will receive medals.
On Sunday Oct. 2, Valentin Karate will hold a demonstration from noon to 12:45, followed by a performance from Miss Joyce School of Dance from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Fountainhead will then take the stage from 4 to 6:30 pm.
On the second week of the festival, Friday Oct. 7’s entertainment will be Braxton Bragg performing from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday Oct. 8, the Southington Stars will perform from 10 to 10:45 a.m., followed by Dance City and the Arts from 11:15 to 11:45, the return of the apple pie eating contest from noon to 12:30 p.m. and the fritter eating contest from 1 to 1:30 p.m. A Creedence Fogerty tribute band will play from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. followed by the Kathy Thompson Band from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The final day of the festival, Sunday Oct. 8 will see a performance from the Center Stage Dance Studio from noon to 12:45 p.m., Blackberry Pines playing from 1 to 2 p.m. and Steppin’ Out closing out the festival from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m.
An arts and crafts area will be set up behind the main stage from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 8 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 8. Tracy Bentz, chair of the crafts show as well as the children’s carnival, said that there will be more than 65 vendors, which will include soaps, lotions, jewelry, wreaths, furniture,pet goods and more.
Fireworks, sponsored by Cox Communications, will be held Oct. 1 at 9 p.m. with a rain date of Oct. 8.
The Kiwanis Club’s Bed Races, sponsored by Southington Community Cultural Arts, will be held Oct. 1 with judging at 12:30 p.m. and bed races down main street starting at 2 p.m.
Road Races, sponsored by the Southington Community YMCA, will be held Oct. 2 at 8:30 a.m. They will include a 5 mile and 5K run as well as a 2 mile walk and a “little fritter run” for elementary aged children. Registration begins at 8 a.m.
An Apple Pie Baking Contest will be held Oct. 1 and Oct. 8 at 10 a.m., sponsored by Frontier Communications. Champagne said that the winner of this contest, a long-standing tradition, will receive a gift card.
The festival parade, sponsored by Liberty Bank, will be held Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. with a rain date of Oct. 9. The Grand Marshal is Sue Saucier, former director of Southington Youth Services, and the theme is a “candy apple kids parade.”
“Sue has been involved with the festival for 11 years,” said Champagne. “She also has had a long history of service to our town and our Board of Education that is second to none.”
The Children’s Carnival, which will be open throughout the course of the festival, will include rides and games for the entire family. Visitors can purchase an arm-band for $25 that allows them to get on all rides all night.
Additional Children’s activities, will be held Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 and Oct.7 and will be $5 each to participate in. They include face painting, glitter tattoos, hair braiding with feathers, photos with costumed characters, sand art and more.
In addition to celebrating its Grand Opening, Southington Community Cultura lArts will have indoor activities from Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 and Oct. 7 through 9.
An open mic night will be held Sept. 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. Additionally on both Saturdays of the festival a community project will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Face painting will be held both weekends throughout the festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. An “inspirational music” program will be held Oct. 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. in which guests will listen to music and then create their own artwork. “Artists in Action” will also showcase loom weaving, clay making and pottery making throughout the event. The Southington Community Cultural Arts building will be open for tours Oct. 8 from noon to 3 p.m.
Platinum Sponsors for the festival include Liberty Bank and Cox Communications. Gold Sponsors include Parsons Buick of Plainville, AMR, Price Chopper and Pepsi. Silver Sponsors include Frontier Communications, UConn Health, Waste Material Trucking Co., Inc., The Power of Possible, Just 4 Kidz Dentistry, Lincoln College of New England, Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers, C-TecSolar, Goosetown Communications, American Eagle Financial Credit Union, the Hospital of Central Connecticut, HQ Dumpsters and New Britain Transportation. Bronze Sponsors include Quantum Biopower, Farmington Bank, BL Companies, Newfield Construction, HillCrest Village, the Community Foundation of Great New Britain, Energize Connecticut, Eversource Energy and Tighe & Bond.
No dogs will be allowed at the festival per city ordinance.
Shuttle buses will provide free transportation from Southington High School over the course of the festival, dropping guests off by The Barnes Museum near 85 N. Main Street. There will be No parking on Academy Lane, Academy Street, Berlin Avenue, Center Court, Chestnut Street, Columbus Avenue, Eden Avenue, High Street, Hobart Street, Liberty Street, Merrell Avenue, Mill Street, North Liberty Street, North Main Street, Oak Street, Vermont Avenue, Vermont Terrace, West Center Street or Woodruff Street starting an hour before the festival each day.
For more information, call the Apple Harvest Festival phone line at 860-276-8461.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.