Reorganized for what organizers believe will be a more enjoyable layout for the hundreds of vendors and more than 111,000 guests who attend the festival annually, this year’s lineup will include all the old Apple Festival favorites and several intriguing new twists.
Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Delp said for the first time this year, all of the festival’s food vendors will be centrally located in one large area behind the courthouse with under-tent seating, all the old favorites and several new food vendors.
The Chamber organizes the festival with the help of community members.
“It’s something we’ve tried to do for years but did not have the capacity to do,” Delp said, giving credit to new electric outlet boxes installed over the past year at key spots throughout the downtown festival area.
The realignment has also made way for 30 new craft vendors who will be making their first appearance at this year’s festival and bringing the total number of unique craft outlets to more than 350.
The Apple Festival’s musical offerings have also been tweaked this year to feature two nights of headline and opening band performances on the festival’s main stage on Tucker Street and two full days of live gospel music on the gospel stage at Love and Church streets.
Saturday night’s headliner will be Southern Rebellion, a local group that mixes country, southern rock and blues.
Contests include the annual Apple Dumpling competition in which photographs of Unicoi County kids age 5 and under may be submitted to earn dollar votes for community needs and projects; an apple recipe competition with sweet and savory categories, an Apple Festival 4-mile Road Race and 3K Race Walk through downtown early Saturday morning, Oct. 5, and tje Miss Apple Festival pageant Saturday evening at the county high school with crowns and titles in nine age divisions.
In addition to contests, community fundraising — look for the Rotary apple butter sale near the Love Street Stage, a smorgasbord of food, music, handmade crafts, antiques, a large kids’ zone with a trampoline jump, train rides and a new Walk on Water attraction, the festival is a celebration of fresh apples of all varieties including those grown in local mountain orchards.
And then there is annual Blue Ridge Pottery Show featuring 35 dealers from across the country that runs adjacent to the festival at the nearby Love Chapel Elementary School with shuttle service available at the Clinchfield Senior Adults Center at Union and Church streets.
Delp said “you can find just about anything you want at the Apple Festival,” and the Chamber looks forward to seeing everyone there.
Festival hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days. For more information call the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce at 423-743-3000, visit www.unicoicounty.org or stop by the Chamber office at 100 S. Main Ave.