Mother Nature sure played some games with the weather for Applefest 40. Leading up the the "Best Three Days" in Franklin, the forecast was calling for lots of rain on Friday and a fair amont of precipation with falling temperatures on Saturday and Sunday.
In the end, there was a little rain Friday morning that mostly cleared out before the festivities started, a little bit of rain on Saturday with cooler temperatures, and a few showers on Sunday that kept the car show attendance.
But overall the festival went well, said Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce director Jodi Lewis. "Just to pull off a fete such as Applefest (even with glitches) is reason to be happy."
"The one thing we know about Applefest is that weather does not keep away attendees. We are fortunate for sure," she said.
"The weather we had was certainly much better than the weather that was called for only days before our kick-off," she said Tuesday. "The hard rain on Sunday messed with sales for vendors including our apple pie/dumpling/dapple cake tent, but it was nothing awful. There were still folks in the parks, and they were still carrying packages."
Following the festival, she heard mixed reactions from the vendors, including many who said the festival was a big success for them.
"As you can imagine, we hear the good with the bad. Visitors, especially ones who have been in town for other reasons, cannot believe that this already beautiful town can be transformed into something more magical," Lewis said. "Local non-profits and businesses appreciate what Applefest does for their budgets. Everyone who puts forth an effort benefits greatly."
After 40 years of the festival, many of which Lewis has been involved in as a volunteer or chamber employee, she knows that any event will have its mega fans as well as its critics. And despite many of the same events coming back year after year, every Applefest has a little flavor of its own.
This year the festival first times included t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats on demand in the park, an appearance by Willow and Perry of the Tree Family Party Piggies, performances by The Wyllis Street Band, Brandon Rae Band and The Flagship Steel Band, and a brand new Applefest themes flag.
But what made a mark on Lewis this year?
"What stands out to me the most is that for 40 years people have been dedicating their time to making this event happen, and each year more people come forward asking how they can help," she said "The chamber does not have a big staff, and the CORE (planning) committee is 11 or 12 people. Anyone knows that we cannot make that happen with just that many people. It is the village that surrounds us that stands out to me."
Opposite all the firsts was a big last that went unnoticed by many of the festival attendees. Long-time CORE committee chairperson Jim Williams marked his final go-around as head of the year's largest event.
"He has been such an integral part of this committee and this event. I would say that is because he believes in this community; he and Lynda chose to make it their home a few decades ago, and he has done what he can to make sure the downtown is successful," Lewis said of the festival's longtime leader.
"Jim and the CORE committee invest so much of themselves into Applefest, and they don’t do it so that they can be patted on the back; they do it for the love of community. We all know the value of this event to our local business owners, and every decision that Jim has made is based on that benefit to business owners. He is a great leader and a great team member; he is hands-on and wouldn’t ask us to do anything that he would not do first."
Taking Williams' spot at the helm will be longtime CORE committee member, former chamber employee and current Venango County commissioner Mike Dulaney.
Williams plans to remain on the committee to provide support, guidance and volunteer hours as Dulaney transitions into the leadership position.
"As always, we are so grateful for everyone who makes Applefest the incredible event that it is," Lewis said.
"And this year - I am a little extra grateful for friends who knew just what I needed when I needed it; they stayed up late with me; they came in the mornings and evenings and weekends … thank you all."
Applefest 41 will be held
October 4, 5 and 6, 2024
Sponsors of Eight & 322
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