43rd Apple Festival to be held Oct. 8-9 in Oak Harbor

Yaneek Smith

        Tradition is important.
        The Apple Festival, which is celebrating its 43rd year, is as synonymous with Oak Harbor as football and wrestling and is celebrated on the second full weekend in October as part of the village’s long-held tradition.
        It’s estimated that approximately 25,000 people visit the town of 2,700 during the two-day event, which is expected to feature roughly 130 vendors.
        The festival offers something for everyone and presents the opportunity for old friends to meet up.
        “There’s food, crafts, kids, rides, baking, there’s literally whatever you like to do. Everybody likes different things. We’re always looking for new vendors, and they offer a mix of food, craft and retail,” said Oak Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Valerie Winterfield. “I want to make sure that no matter your age or interest level, there’s something for you. If you came 5-10 years ago, we might have a whole new group of vendors. Give it a try because it might have changed. “
        The Junk, a popular band based in Port Clinton, will headline the Saturday night festivities at the Mill Street Tent from 8-11 p.m. It’s open to ages 21 and over and has a $5 cover charge.
        The beer garden, which opens at 4 p.m. will feature a karaoke act, Johnny & Jen from, 4-7 p.m. The cornhole tournament also begins at 4 p.m. (registration is at 3:15 and costs $25 per team).
        “We’ve had The Junk for several years in a row,” said Winterfield. “They’re a good band. They put on a really good show and bring a local following. We’ve told them, ‘As long as you are packing the tent, we want you here.’ They don’t perform a whole lot, maybe once or twice a month; it’s not like you can see them every weekend.
        “Some people say they met their spouse at the beer tent,” Winterfield said. “You meet new people, it’s a fun celebration.”
        Earlier on Saturday, there’s the baby contest, the Paulette Weirich Memorial Grand Parade – named in honor of one of the town’s most prestigious matriarchs – and the talent show, among other events.
        A variety of events are planned on Sunday, most notably the Car Show and the 5K Run.
        Winterfield also invited festivalgoers to check out some of the under-the-radar events that perhaps don’t get as much attention as other things on the schedule.
        “The baking contest is actually held on Friday night from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The baked goods are judged and they are sold on Saturday; they’re always really good stuff. We usually sell out all the stuff on Saturday morning, but I wish more people knew about it. I know the baking contest has been going on since the beginning.
        “The talent show used to be big – we actually had to cancel it last year because we only had two or three acts. I don’t know if it’s the times or we aren’t advertising it enough, but it’s really cool to watch – there’s comedy, twirling, dancing. I wish more people would enter that.” 
        “I don’t want to see them go away,” she said.
        “People know that the Apple Festival is happening, and it’s the time where you have class reunions or family reunions. Kids have moved away and come back, and there are people you haven’t seen for a long time. It creates a tradition, and people look forward to those kinds of things,” she said.
        Winterfield noted an economic-impact study done a few years ago found that roughly $600,000 is brought into the community during the two days.
        “It’s very good for the businesses that stay open,” she said. “Those people that come here and see our town, we hope that they come back and continue to visit our businesses. It is residual – the people find Oak Harbor and it puts us on the map. They remember the Apple Festival and it brings them back here.”
        Winterfield credits volunteers as the unsung heroes of the weekend.
        “The sponsorship is also crucial,” she said. “It is a fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce, the Apple Festival is half of our budget. Sponsorship allows us to maximize our dollars – we’ve gotten great community support from our local and area businesses. We’ve been lucky.”
        For more information, visit the festival’s website, oakharborapplefestival.com, or contact Winterfield at 419-898-0479 or chamber@oakharborohio.net.


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