Falling leaves, cool crisp air and warm apple pie: At the Hickory Apple Festival, you can find everything you need to confirm that autumn has officially arrived.
The 29th annual festival revolving around the autumn fruit on Main Street in Hickory will be held Saturday and Sunday. And just like in the past, this year’s event will feature more than 2,000 of the famous made-from-scratch apple pies that residents have grown to love.
“All of the food is homemade,” said Kathy Farner, festival committee treasurer. “We have great food, and it’s all made by and sold by our volunteers.”
Farner said in addition to apple pie, revelers at this year’s event could expect a variety of fresh eats.
“We have home-cooked food and apple goodies of all kinds,” Farner said.
The Hickory Apple Festival pays homage to all things apple. Homemade apple crisp, apple dumplings, caramel apples, candied apples, apple cider and apple butter will be on sale. Farner said the apple butter was made fresh at the festival.
Also on this year’s menu are ham and bean soup, open-fire chicken, roast beef and pork sandwiches, hamburgers, sausage, kielbasa, kettle corn and fresh cut french fries.
All proceeds from the festival benefit Mt. Pleasant Volunteer Fire Company.
In addition to culinary delights, the festival will feature entertainment for all ages. Children’s activities will include rides and a petting zoo featuring mammals and a reptile display with an educational discussion. Several local musicians and bands will also be performing.
Working artisans will be on hand displaying their skills in wood-burning and carving, basket weaving, pottery, quilting and broom- and rug-making. In all, artwork from more than 75 crafters will be available for sale. The fire hall will host an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on both days from 7 a.m. to noon that will include pancakes, sausage, eggs and a choice of milk, cider or coffee. The cost of the breakfast is $7.
Although apple pies will cost a dollar more this year, Farner said it reflected the rising cost of apples, sugar and flour.
Organizers said they had a close call when they tried to order this year’s shipment of ginger gold apples, the variety the festival has used every year for their pies. Because of a limited supply of apples resulting from this year’s loss of crops in Michigan and western New York, officials had to scramble to find the 130 bushels necessary to make more than 2,000 apple pies.
In the end, they were able to get enough apples, but they had to settle for a smaller grade. Smaller apples meant that the 30 volunteers had to spend even more time peeling, coring and slicing the apples in order to make the pie filling.
“It’s absolutely a lot of work for a lot of people, but we do it for the benefit of our community and the fire department,” Farner said. “All those people in the kitchen making dough and pinching pies and telling stories – everybody has a good time making those pies.”