Hendersonville’s Labor Day tradition continuews with the 71st annual North Carolina Apple Festival taking place from Friday through the King Apple Parade held Monday. Archive photo.
A Labor Day tradition continues in Hendersonville with the 71st annual North Carolina Apple Festival taking place from Friday, September 1st through the King Apple Parade on Monday, September 4th. With so many apple farmers with orchards in the area, the city goes all out to celebrate their apple crop and the apple’s contribution to the community. At the parade on Monday there will be professional floats, school bands, youth groups, antique cars, fire trucks, police and military units. and local celebrities participating. This year’s Apple Festival President is Lee Henderson-Hill; the 2017 Parade Grand Marshal is J.D. Obermiller.
The Apple Ambassador this year is Miranda Rachel Burleson. She is a rising senior at North Henderson High School and is the daughter of Andrea Staton-Jacklin and Chris Burleson. The runner-up is Alexandra “Lexi” M. Iurato of West Henderson High School She is the daughter of Bob Iurato and the late Tracy Iurato. The representatives must be knowledgeable about the apple industry and exhibit good leadership skills and good public speaking skills. The winner receives a $2,000 college scholarship; a $1,000 scholarship is awarded to the first runner-up. These are sponsored by the North Carolina Apple Growers Association. Some of the duties the ambassadors perform include meeting with the Governor and the Commissioner of Agriculture, speaking at the Southeastern Apple Growers meeting, and other official functions. The ambassadors both participate in the Apple Festival activities.
If you attend the festival, you can enjoy pancake breakfasts, car shows, gem and mineral show with special exhibits, the Pardee Apple Festival 8-K, Team 5-K and Chick-Fil-A Mini Moo Mile races, a bike tour (The Tour d’Apple), apple orchard tours, apple recipe contest, sidewalk sales, and arts and crafts exhibits over this Labor Day weekend. The Hendersonville Main Street will be lined with items from merchants and vendors, crafts persons and artists. A large crowd will undoubtedly be in Hendersonville again and participate in the many activities.
Apple stands with apple cider, slushies, apple butter, caramel apples, apple pies, turnovers, apple recipes are of course a primary focus with many booths from local orchards to be seen. There will be a car show with antique model T-Fords and British Cars of WNC, and a Quilt & Craft Show as well. A carnival for kids area with fun rides and games can be found at the southern end in the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot as well as the Visitors Center parking lot. Then in the evenings the NCAF Stage Entertainment will be held on the Ginger Gold Entertainment Stage presented by OneMain Financial. The Buddy-K Big Band with traditional big band music on Friday, the Atlanta Pleasure Band with party and dance music from 7:00 to 11:00 PM on Saturday, and the Tony Howard Band with dance, beach music and Hip Hop from 7:00 to 10:00 PM on Sunday, September 3, are scheduled. The festival is free to attend, but no pets are allowed. It runs from 10 AM until the end of the King Apple Parade which starts at 2:30 PM on Monday.
According to the Blue Ridge Farm Direct Market Association, Henderson County ranks seventh in production among all the counties in the United States. The county grows 65 percent of all the apples grown in the state. There are approximately 200 apple growers in Henderson County. During a normal year the apple brings in an average income of $22 million dollars or more. The most widely grown apples are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty and Galas. All these locally grown and freshly picked apples can be bought and tasted at the festival.