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They munched on everything from apple fritters to apple pizza, watched applesauce being made with an antique apple peeler and steam engine, took pictures by the giant iconic apple, and bought a few apples to take home Saturday on the opening day of the 54th National Apple Harvest Festival in Arendtsville.

And while apples are, of course, the stars of the show, people say there is so much more to see and do.

The event, sponsored by the Upper Adams Jaycees, opened this weekend and also runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 13 to 14.

Mattie Wetzel, a Jaycee volunteer, said Honeycrisp apples are by far the most popular variety.

“We’ve been selling them (at the festival) for about five years,” she said. “We started because so many people asked for them.

“They’re usually large in size, sweet-tart, a little on the firm side, and crisp. … You can bake with them, but mostly they’re really more of a snack apple.”

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Jonathan, Jonagold, Gala and Golden Delicious varieties are also available at the festival, but they are not nearly as popular as Honeycrisp, she said.

For a complete schedule of events, visit appleharvest.com.

Make-your-own trail mix

“Every year, I look forward to this,” said Rich Moesch, of Annapolis, Maryland, as he made trail mix at Mary Harman’s Quick Fix Trail Mix booth. “The apple chips are new this year.”

Rich and his wife, Penny, said it’s a unique feature of the festival.

“I’ve never seen this anywhere else,” Rich said. “This is the only place.”

“You can make it healthy,” Penny said, adding that her husband works at the Naval Academy Health Clinic in Annapolis.

“This will be his work snack for maybe four days if he rations it,” she said.

Harman, of Aspers, has been bringing her mix-your-own trail mix to the Apple Harvest Festival for the past seven years.

“People like it because they can pick their own ingredients,” she said. “There are 17 items — dried fruits, nuts and candy.”

Scarecrows

Many festival visitors, like Lilianna Wiley, 10, of Chambersburg, enjoyed making scarecrows.

“I’ve never built a scarecrow,” she said as her father, Rick, helped her add straw stuffing. “We’ll probably put him on the porch.”

“We had to exchange the head to match the clothes she picked,” said her mother, Sabrina.

The scarecrow booth is run by the Upper Adams Jaycees.

“We make the heads,” said volunteer Sara Moody. “They pick the clothes. … They stuff it, and we will babysit it until they’re ready to leave the festival.”

She said kids really enjoy playing in the straw as they’re stuffing their scarecrows.

Crafts

Gloria and Walter Bender, of Carlisle, love crafts and appreciate the work that goes into creating art.

“I love just about everything (at the festival),” said Gloria, a crafter herself, as she and her husband looked at a display of nightlights. “I love crafts, and I love the pow wows. They have Native American dancers here.”

Gloria said she fashions three-dimensional covered wagons out of plastic canvas, using needlework to create designs, and adds plastic horses to pull the wagons.

It’s a hobby she learned from her father, Walter said, adding “He made one for each of his children.”

Pony rides

Janna Trudel, of Virginia, and her family were at the festival for the first time this year.

“We just like apples,” she said as her husband and children got in line to ride the ponies. “And the kids like ponies.”

The ponies are from the Island of Chincoteague in Virginia, according to Deanna Minor, owner of Serendipity Farm in Fairplay, Maryland.

“We’ve been here for about four years, and pony rides are real popular.”

Minor said she also brings horses to the festival, so rides are also open to adults.

Trudel said the food is a bonus.

“We don’t have a lot of orchards (near home),” she said. “Here, we can get apple cider, applesauce and baked goods like whoopie pies. So far everything’s been yummy.”

Food

Like Trudel, Nancy and Austin Willi, of Mifflintown, are festival food fans. They said the event has remained much the same over the years, and the food is “absolutely” some of the best.

“The Thai food is excellent, but really, it’s all things apple,” Nancy said.

“We’ve not been here for 20 years, but a lot is as we remember it,” Austin said. “This is a great time of year to visit the apple orchards.”

Tradition

Aaron Plymire, of York, said he enjoys the food as well as the arts and crafts, but coming to the festival is simply a tradition.

“She’s been coming here since she was a baby,” he said, nodding toward Jenny Miller, of York.

“Yes, we brought the kids since they were babies,” said Miller’s mother, Mary Janis, of Mount Wolf, as she sipped on corn soup.

“The main reason is family tradition,” Joyce Crigger said. “We’ve been coming here for 42 years. My daughter was in a stroller, and she’s 44 now.”

Today, Crigger keeps the tradition going by attending with her two granddaughters, Sonja and Leah Rhodes, as well as her daughter and husband.

“Now that we’re older, we enjoy entertainment, food and the whole atmosphere,” she said.

Petting zoo

Miller’s granddaughter, 6-year-old Hattie Plymire, said her favorite part of the Apple Harvest Festival is seeing all of the animals at the petting zoo. She said there are goats, chickens, lambs and sheep, but her favorite animals are bunnies.

The petting zoo is part of Kid Country, which also includes activities like face painting, storytelling and old-fashioned games.

Demonstrations

Mary Kane, applesauce booth chair, said there always seems to be a crowd of people who gather to watch applesauce being made.

Run by the Upper Adams Jaycees, the applesauce booth features a 1926 three-cup apple peeler that cores and peels apples, according to Kane. Apples are then sliced into 16 pieces and cooked in an antique steam engine, and Jaycee volunteers add flavors and sugars before pouring the finished applesauce into jars, she said.

“We get quite a crowd who like to stand and watch,” she said. “It’s pretty neat. They watch and try to figure it all out.”

She said applesauce sells pretty well, too — about 1,000 jars during the four-day festival.

Car show

Jack and Lynne Davis, of Scranton, were camping in Gettysburg when they heard about the Apple Harvest Festival and thought it sounded like fun.

“The cars were the first thing we saw when we came through the gate, but we’re going to look at everything,” Jack said.

He and his wife, both car enthusiasts, were impressed with some of the vehicles they saw.

“I had a ‘67 Cougar and a ‘70 Nova,” Jack said.

“I’d like to get a ’65 Mustang convertible,” Lynne said. “It’s my favorite, my dream car someday. I just always liked it.”

Entertainment

Nora Bowling of Akron, Ohio, was at the festival with a friend, Linda Piniefki, of Warfordsburg.

Bowling said she enjoys the different cultures, like Celtic music and Native American Indian dancing. She was also impressed with all of the apple orchards in the area, and was looking forward to crafts, the Underground Railroad tour and wine tasting.

“I’ve never been to a wine tasting,” she said.

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