For over 60 years the North Carolina Apple Festival has been attracting thousands of visitors from across the country. Every Labor Day weekend, the festival features freshly picked apples, arts and crafts, free entertainment and delicious food. The event is free to enter and features the King Apple Parade that attracts over 60,000 people by itself. There are 15 separate apple growers who bring fresh harvest to sell as well as apple pies, apple cider, and apple butter.
In addition to the growers, the festival features over 200 street vendors who offer a wide range of wares to purchase. Apples are integral to the festival as well as being a major part of the community. The apple industry in Henderson County has been shaping the culture and economy in the area since the 18th century. The North Carolina Apple Festival is widely considered one of the top family events in the eastern United States. We took some time to talk with David Nicholson, the Executive Director of the festival.
RAL: What can I expect as an attendee?
DN: There are events going on across the entire community. At the street fair, we have about 220 vendors that are judged for quality before we will consider them. Also, Monday through Sunday we bring in a professional stage with sound and lights, and will have free entertainment at the Historic Courthouse . On Monday, we have a smaller street fair but that day we close with the King Apple Parade.
TS: How long has the North Carolina Apple Festival been running?
DN: This is our 69th festival.
TS: How many participants do you draw each year.
DN: We attract over 250,000 people from all over the Southeastern United States.
TS: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event?
DN: Our study showed we draw all ages. One reason we have such a wide array is that we don't sell any alcoholic beverages. We say that our festival is one that you can bring your grandchildren or grandparents.
TS: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?
DN: Not a lot of specials since they are usually booked full in the area this time of year.
TS: What sets your event apart away from other events?
DN: At the street fair, we have arts & crafts, non-profits and festival food. But, we feature 15 local apple growers. You can purchase a Carmel apple or even a bushel of freshly picked apples. And who doesn't want a fried Apple pie?
TS: Does this drive business to your local economy?
DN: Our study shows our economic impact of over 12 millions dollars for the weekend annually. And that is not money spent on the street fair event. It's spent on the community.
TS: Does the event support a special cause in the community?
DN: We promote, through advertising and education, the North Carolina Apple industry, which plays such a vital role in our community, as well as surrounding communities in Henderson County..
TS: Why should people come to your event?
DN: It's a great local event drawing people from across the southeastern U.S that return year after year.
For more information you can visit the event website at http://www.ncapplefestival.org/.