Autumn means apples, bushels of old-fashioned, harvest festivals

September 21, 1994|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Special to The Sun

The crisp and golden days of the harvest are upon us, and it's time to celebrate the season of the apple.

As the star of a handful of old-fashioned autumn festivals throughout the region over the next few weeks, the popular fruit will be cooked by the bushel into pies, butter, pancakes, syrup, cider, dumplings, jellies, cakes and strudels for fair-goers in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to eat and enjoy.

Apple pies will be judged, an apple queen will be crowned. If that's not enough, fill your trunk with baskets of apples and jugs of cider or munch on apple slices slathered with hot caramel and whipped cream.

Most festivals feature non-apple events to round out the fun, such as square dancing, country music, jousting and scarecrow making. Here's a run-down of some destinations for a tasty outing this fall:

* Darlington Apple Festival, Oct. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Darlington. In nine years, this Harford county street fair has grown from a small-town church event to a big-time community celebration that attracts nearly 40,000 visitors. Organizers say the crowds come for an old-fashioned day in the country with homemade apple pies, country markets and children's games.

Shuresville Road in the heart of the rural village will be closed so local churches and organizations can sell homemade chili, pit beef, soup and apple goodies. Competition for the Maryland State Jousting Championship will be held throughout the day, culminating in a parade of costumed participants. An Apple of Our Eye award will be presented to a leading community member.

Apple Delites with hot caramel and whipped cream will again be served; and they'll dip Granny Smith apples in caramel and white chocolate and roll them in toffee crunch. Admission is free. Park on Route 1 outside of town, which is on Route 161 between Route 1 and Route 155 northeast of Bel Air.

* National Apple Harvest Festival, Oct. 1, 2, 8 and 9, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Arendtsville, Pa. Hundreds of volunteers will fire up old-fashioned steam kettles, set up the cider presses, get the wood fires going and heat up the frying pans to make apple syrup, jelly, sauce, cider, pancakes and fritters at this annual event.

Pit beef cooked on 12-foot skewers, homemade scrapple

prepared in an iron kettle over a fire and more than 1,100 bushels of apples will be readied for 100,000 hungry visitors the Upper Adams Jaycees hope to welcome to the 30th edition of their community fund-raiser at South Mountain Fairgrounds.

Each day will feature demonstrations of weaving, spinning, falconry and sheep-herding, steam-engine rides and bus tours of nearby orchards. For $12, visitors may stuff their own scarecrow. For children, there are puppet shows, apple bobbing and pie-eating contests.

Admission is $4 for adults, $3.25 for seniors and free for children under 12. Parking is $2. From I-695 take I-795 to Route 140. Go north on Route 97 and Route 15 past Gettysburg to Route 234 west. Follow signs to festival.

* Apple Butter Festival, Oct. 8 and 9, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Berkeley Springs, W.Va. All are welcome to help stir the apple butter as it simmers over an open fire at this 21st annual country fair. The hometown weekend will kick off with a parade of schoolchildren, high school bands and local business floats. Don't miss the turtle race, the beard-growing contest, the egg toss or the judging of apple baking. Admission is free. Take I-70 west to Route 522 south.

* Apple Dumpling Festival, Oct. 8, 10 a.m. until sell-out, Ephrata, Pa. Stop by the historic Ephrata Cloister -- site of an 18th century religious society -- for a $2 homemade apple dumpling and help support the museum. Admission is free; entry fee for the museum. Take I-83 north to Route 30 east to Route 272 north. Museum is at Routes 272 and 322.

* Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival, Oct. 13-16, hours vary for events, Martinsburg, W.Va. Highlights of the town-wide celebration are the crowning of an apple queen, a square dance, a parade, apple pancake breakfasts, pie-baking contests and auctions, agricultural tours and arts and crafts. Admission for some events. Take I-70 west to I-81 south.

Other happenings

* Don't overlook smaller events closer to home, such as the Anne Arundel County Historical Society benefit for the Benson-Hammond House, a farm museum, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 8. This third annual apple festival features apple crisp with ice cream, cider and apple butter. Admission is free, with a $2 charge for museum tours. It's at 7101 Aviation boulevard, Linthicum.

* The family-oriented apple festival at Piney Run Park in Carroll County Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. will feature pontoon boat tours, horse-drawn wagon rides and scarecrow making. Admission is $4 per vehicle for non-county residents, $3 for residents, with extra fees for some activities. Take I-70 west to Route 32 north, turn left on Route 26, left on White Rock Road and left on Martz Road to the park.

* Mark your calendar for next year's Apple Harvest Arts & Crafts Festival, held every third weekend of September in Winchester, Va. Featured are the state apple butter-making championships and the regional apple pie-baking contest.

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