SOUTHINGTON - The 50th Year of the Apple Harvest Festival will feature special entertainment, including a laser light show and national music act Bowling for Soup, among other fun activities for all ages says organizer Melissa Cocuzza.
“We tried to keep a lot of the traditions that people really enjoy while also bringing in some new attractions,” said Cocuzza. “Plan to spend more time at the festival this year enjoying them.”
The Apple Harvest Festival will be held on the Town Green and Riccio Way Friday, Sept. 28, from 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 29, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 30, from noon to 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 5, from 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 6, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 7, from noon to 5 p.m.
Cocuzza said there will be 95 vendor booths, including exhibitors, food and artists.
A carnival will be open both weekends for all festival hours, featuring rides and games for the entire family. Admission is $25. Debit and credit cards are accepted. A few other rides will also be at The Barnes Museum.
The Arts & Crafts Show this year will feature more than 50 booths and will be held Oct. 6 and 7.
There are 46 food vendors, including Zion Lutheran Church’s famous apple fritters, as well as foods from other local churches, farms and restaurants.
Entertainment highlights will include a laser light show Sept. 28 at 8:15 p.m. on the town green and the annual fireworks show sponsored by Liberty Bank Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. (with a rain date of Oct. 6 at 9 p.m. Bowling for Soup will perform Sept. 29 at 7:45 p.m.
A sand artist will be creating an 8-foot by 8-foot sculpture during the second week of the festival on the town green.
Cocuzza said there will be many new attractions, such as a free rolling video game truck and a LEGO booth. People will also be able to crawl into large see-through balls and move around on water with the Water Ballers behind the main stage.
Escapism, located at 168 Center Street, will be offering a free mini-escape room challenge, and Bradley Mountain Farms will be bringing their goats to the town green dressed in red tutus and apple hats, where they will be painting with their hooves.
“We will also have a Youth Booth, featuring positive activities that kids can get involved with,” said Cocuzza. “The CyberKnights robotics team will be doing demos and the STEPS Coalition (a group designed to prevent youth drug and alcohol abuse) and LISA, Inc. will also have booths. Local high school and middle school students will be displaying their art for sale.”
There will also be events to celebrate the history of the long-standing town festival. The Southington Chamber of Commerce’s booth, behind the main stage, will feature memorabilia from past years.
There will also be a CT Icon reunion show. The winners and finalists of this singing competition, which has been part of the festival for the past six years, will perform.
Several of the popular events from past years will also return.
The road races, sponsored by the Southington Community YMCA, will be held Sept. 30 at 8:45 a.m. There will be a five-mile race, a three-mile walk/run and a little fritter fun run. Registration will be held from 7 to 8:30 a.m.
The Apple Harvest Parade will be Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. (with a rain date of Oct. 7 at 2 p.m.) with the Champagne family as grand marshals.
“Southington Community Cultural Arts has been involved in the festival for a number of years and this year they will be bringing in beautiful fiberglass apples decorated by local artists that will be featured in the parade,” said Cocuzza.
The apple pie baking contest, sponsored by AARP, will be Sept. 29 at 11 a.m. The Apple Fritter Eating Contest, sponsored by United Bank, will be Sept. 29 at 12:15 p.m. The apple pie eating contest, sponsored by iLoveKickboxing, will be Oct. 6 at noon.
Cocuzza encouraged those who haven’t been to the Apple Harvest Festival before to see what the fun is about.
“We keep it family-oriented and there is something for all ages to enjoy,” she said. “There will be a lot of entertainment and a lot to do.”
Platinum sponsors for this year’s Apple Harvest Festival are Liberty Bank and Bristol Hospital.
Shuttle buses run from Southington High School at 720 Pleasant Street from 30 minutes before the festival until 30 minutes after the festival. Admission to the festival and parking at Southington High School are free. Shuttle bus service will not be available on both Fridays of the event. Handicapped parking is available in the Town Hall visitors’ lot on Berlin Ave.
Dogs are prohibited on the festival grounds during festival hours except for police dogs and those certified for use by disabled persons.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.