Pennsylvania has a long history of growing apples — and is the fourth largest producer in the U.S. Adams County, in south Pennsylvania, where the National Apple Harvest Festival takes place two weekends each year, apples are taken seriously!Apples are everywhere. In fact more than five million bushels of apples are harvested in this one county alone. Everywhere you turn somebody is harvesting, selling — or eating apples!
What is the National Apple Harvest Festival? Think large county fair, just with many more crafts and not really any rides and not your standard fair greasy food — the food is much better at the festival, I think. There’s always plenty of food featuring, of course, apples — in fact, my favorite is the dessert shed that featured apple pies and at least a half dozen other apple desserts. Whatever apple food you can think of — it will be there: , sausage and apples, apple pancakes, apple desserts, candied apples, apple cider, applesauce, apple jellies, apple butter, apples in caramel, and just plain apples for eating.
There will be continuous free entertainment, and pony rides and craft demonstrations. There are a lot of funny, rural, obscure type exhibits which, upon closer investigation, turn out to be really interesting, such as the steam engine display.
My hubby and I have gone to the festival for the past two years, and were impressed both years by the sheer numbers of folks attending the festival, and how well organized the parking and shuttles were (you park in nearby farm fields — all well signed — and board school buses for the short ride to the festival itself). It’s an easy on and off, and families with strollers, packages, or little children are accommodated and helped.
Since you’re in the area, check out the the National Apple Museum, which is nearby (of course!). There are gallery displays, videos, guided tours and, of course, plenty of apples to eat. Among the artifacts is my favorite, a reconstructed 1880s-era kitchen, replete with a dry sink, wood stove, and table and chairs that I wonder might be similar to kitchens my forebears worked in (my father’s family have been farmers in Adams County since 1811). There also is a reconstructed historic country store, as well as a quilt display. Make your apple day complete by stopping by for an hour to browse the displays and soak up some of the local history. Go to www.nationalapplemuseum.com/ for more information.
Throughout the autumn season, or anytime throughout the year, Adams County offers some of the most lovely pastoral scenes I’ve ever encountered, so I recommend driving along the
Scenic Valley Tour, a 36-mile driving tour that features both apple country and some of historic Gettysburg’s more famous sites. A brochure detailing the tour can be obtained from the Gettysburg Travel Council at 35 Carlisle Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325, or by visiting http://www.gettysbg.com/visitgettysburg.shtml. The entire route is clearly marked with Adams County Scenic Valley Tour signs. (Approximate driving time is 2 hours.)
Getting there: The Apple Harvest Festival is located 10 miles north west of Gettysburg, PA at the South Mountain Fairgrounds in Arendtsville, PA. GPS it: Use 615 Narrows Road, Biglerville, PA 17307 as destination address.
Hours: The National Apple Harvest Festival runs the weekends of October 5-6 and October 12-13 from 9 am until 6 pm daily; the National Apple Museum is open May through October of each year, Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm and Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm.
Dogs: Not welcomed at the festival.
Eats: Plenty to chose from at the festival. Come hungry. Leave with a half peck of apples!
Websites: www.appleharvest.com, www.pennsylvaniaapples.org, www.nationalapplemuseum.com
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