By Stacey Fox – Every year by about late August, when early summer apples have hit the farm markets, the calendar goes in to countdown mode. Unlike most, I’m not counting down the days until school starts or the kickoff to football season. I’m looking forward to the National Apple Harvest Festival – perhaps my favorite event in Adams County.
The festival is always the first two weekends in October. Each year it’s a gamble – will it be warm and sunny or a beautiful cool fall day. Either way it will be fun and family filled. My parents usually join us, at least for one trip. Some years my husband, daughter and I go twice because it’s so much fun, and we just don’t get our fill the first time.
I’m not sure what I love best, the apple pizza, the apple sausage or the cider – but I am sure that my favorite part is the food. There’s everything from apple pies to apple jellies, apple pizza to candied apples, apple ice cream and apple bread. After all the years we’ve been going, we know what delicacy is where and in what order we will eat.
The festival brings a variety of people – some come early, some come later in the day. My family is typically there early, in time to fit both breakfast and lunch into our experience.
First up is always apple sausage. If you’ve never ever tried it, you think like I did at first – a little skeptical. It isn’t good, it is delicious – possibly red delicious. The mild sausage is complimented by the apple flavor from the real apple mixed in. My husband likes his with kraut, but I’m a plain girl. My daughter likes it so much we have to protect our sausage if she finishes first – she has been known to steal bites.
While we are hanging out on the hay bales, snacking on our sausage, my dad usually hits up the local Lions Club kitchen for an egg sandwich for himself and a bowl of homemade chicken corn soup for my husband – something he talks about for weeks before and after the event. Once we’ve downed that, it’s on to the next destination.
The journey along the way is filled with pit stops – tasting the salsa and dips from the vendors set up throughout the fairgrounds, checking out some cool handmade home décor or grabbing an apple slushy. My daughter is 9 and always likes to stop at the petting zoo to see the animals. The local 4-H brings out horses, cows, pigs, bunnies, goats – animals you may find on the farm.
Next we hit another row of food vendors – everything from apple pizza, hot ham and cheese, or – if we’re really hungry (and patient), we’ll hit the line for the pit beef sandwiches. Once our sandwiches are in hand, we never regret the wait.
Up next is the Kime’s cider stand. You can see them hand pressing cider as they once did while you have a taste of the crisp cold drink. You can also try pear cider, cinnamon cider, and a few others that they usually have to offer.
In the end, everyone is happy and ready for the next snack. We splurge on something yummy – Italian ice, funnel cake topped with warm apples and sweet powdered sugar or sweet potato fries. We may grab a hot pretzel, a tasting of local hard cider, or maybe some warm peanuts from our friend Mister Ed. Usually it’s about this time my husband regrets not saving room for the rib-eye steak sandwich.
By this time, we’re a few hours into our festival experience and back to the main entrance.
It’s time to head home. Our bellies are pleasantly full, we’re happy with the purchases we made, enjoyed some live music and tired ourselves out for the short bus ride back to the car. But one more stop before heading home – our traditional visit to nearby Hollabaugh Bros. Fruit Farm for a bag of fresh apples and a few other apple treats.
A wonderfully delicious family-filled day.
About the Author:
A native of Adams County, Pa., Stacey now lives in East Berlin just north of Gettysburg. After spending years traveling throughout the United States, she believes she lives in the most beautiful place in the country. Her favorite part of living here is the natural beauty of the landscape – the rolling hills, orchards, streams, wooded areas and the friendly people. She spends her time with her husband, Brian and 9-year-old daughter, Chloe, and yellow lab, Dreamer. Stacey is expecting her second child this Christmas.