SOUTHINGTON- Town leaders praised the longevity and popularity of the Apple Harvest Festival as it opened for its 50th year Friday, bringing an assortment of tasty treats, entertainment and vendors to downtown.
As crowds began to pour in and browse booths for something new to eat, Council Chairman Chris Palmieri took to the main stage along with fellow Councilors Kelly Morrissey, Dawn Miceli, Tom Lombardi and Chris Poulos to kick off the two week festival. They were joined by Town Manager Mark Sciota and members of the Apple Harvest Festival Committee.
Palmieri offered the committee his “sincerest congratulations” on behalf of the council. He also pointed out that the festival was run in its first 35 years by the Chamber of Commerce and that the Council took it over in the past 15 years.
“This six day event is one of Connecticut’s top tourist events of the season,” he said. “It attracts 100,000 visitors annually and has fun events, entertainment, food, and crafts for all ages. We think the committee for their hard work and dedication and extend congratulations to all members past and present what helps to make this event excell for the past 50 years.”
He also read a proclamation naming next week Apple Harvest Festival Week.
With that, the festival was officially started. New families pushed strollers with balloons tied to them. Families with older children lined up for carnival rides. Older couples sat together on benches on the town green. There was something to see and something to eat that everybody could enjoy.
Holly Beck and Marcel Duprey, of Southington, said they came to meet up with friends.
“...And I’ve got to have the kettle corn and steal and cheese,” said Marcel. “After that we’re headed to the beer garden.”
“And to the apple fritters,” added Beck.
Cindy Gagliardi, her brother Les Zimmer and his wife Sharon, all from Southington, said they came for the fritters and to see the band Relic perform.
“We also come every year for the crafts and to see the parade,” said Gagliardi. “We hope everyone has a fun, safe festival.”
Denise Roy, also of Southington, came to the festival with her neice Julia Roy, 13, and her nephew Dan Roy, 16. They were enjoying mac and cheese with pulled pork from a food truck.
“I live in Southington but I’m originally from Newington and last year was the first year I came to this,” said Denise Roy. “We’re going to try a lot of the foods; there’s a lot of restaurants here. We’re also going to check out the laser light show later.”
The festival continues through the weekend with fireworks on Saturday night at 9 p.m. and the parade at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Visit www.southingtonahf.com for more information.