The National Apple Harvest Festival in Pennsylvania
Every year during the first two weekends in October, Pennsylvania hosts the National Apple Harvest Festival at the South Mountain Fairgrounds in Arendtsville, PA. My daughters and I went for the first time last year, and just like going to the pumpkin patch, we may have to make it a yearly tradition. Living in Maryland, we have no shortage of seasonal festivals and holiday events, but the National Apple Harvest Festival was quite impressive. The festival, set up in the middle of seemingly endless miles of apple trees, is the epitome of a fall-harvest celebration. The event includes hundreds of craft vendors, a kid's zone, live entertainment, fair food and more.
Our first stop was of course the food. There were lots of local treats like candy apples, apple jellies, breads, cider and kettle corn that you can purchase and take home with you. Is there anything better than the smell of fresh kettle corn at an outdoor festival? The other food vendors consisted of typical fair food; like fresh lemonade, funnel cake, and lots of sizzling meat. The food area is heaven for meat lovers, containing coutry sausage and ham and all kinds of open-pit barbecue. My daughter Kylie (an avid meat eater) went straight for the bacon sandwich. Kaitlin, as usual, wanted a snowcone. For dessert we all split a fresh, hot funnel cake until we were thoroughly covered in powdered sugar.
The craft and holiday vendors alone were worth going, despite the usual hassles with parking, crowds and whining children. The festival hosts over 300 vendors each year, mostly consisting of holiday crafters. I only wish I had brought more cash with me (and a studly man to carry my purchases). There were so many wonderful Christmas ornaments that were only a dollar or two. There were also a few small farm stands containing fall crops, even big Fairytale Pumpkins (pictured right). Unfortunately, it's quite a walk back to the parking areas, so unless you plan on waiting in a long line for a shuttle bus, it's best to make small purchases that you can easily carry. I suggest bringing a large canvas tote or reusable shopping bag to make it easier.
Basic Info on The National Apple Harvest Festival:
- Dates for 2012: October 6 - 7 and 13 - 14, 8am-6pm rain or shine
- Admission: General-$9, Seniors-$8, children under 12 FREE
- Admission includes Parking and Shuttle Service and all Attractions and Exhibits on 6 Stages.
- No pets allowed.
- Official website: http://www.appleharvest.com
Insider Tips at a Glance:
- The weather can still be warm this time of year, especially when walking around in the sun all day, so dress in layers.
- The shuttle is easy coming in, but expect a long and hectic line on the way out. It's best to just walk back to your car, so plan on a little walking.
- Bring a large, easy-to-carry tote bag for your craft purchases, and don't forget to bring cash!
- Come hungry! There's plenty of yummy food.
- Reserve some of your holiday-decorating budget for this festival. Lots of beatiful & affordble Christmas decor.
- Fun for elementary-age kids, but very crowded and a bit of a hassle if you're towing toddlers or babies. Leave the little ones at home if you can.
- There is hay everywhere, so take your allergy medicine beforehand.
- It's a beautiful place for fall photos, so dress your kids in something festive!