CLEAR BROOK — The Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival — put on each year since 1975 by the Winchester Rotary Club — will take place this weekend.
Yes, you read that right. The festival will take place.
After six months of cancellations and closings, it’s almost hard to believe that there’s going to be a festival. A real live festival offering two days of activities and fun including craft vendors, food trucks, live music, a classic car/hot rod show, inflatables for the kids and even an apple pie eating contest.
The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Frederick County Fairgrounds, 250 Fairground Road, off U.S. 11 North in Clear Brook.
“People are so surprised to find out we’re going ahead with the festival,” said Darla McCrary, past president of the Winchester Rotary Club and co-chair of this year’s festival. “But the festival is a big part of our total giving for the year, so we really wanted to make it happen.”
Each year, the Winchester Rotary Club typically gives out $120,000 to local charities. One third of this money comes from the Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival. Because of the restrictions on group events during the coronavirus pandemic, the club hasn’t been able to hold its other fundraisers. Since most of the events for Apple Harvest Festival are held outside, it seemed like this was the best chance for the club to do some fundraising to help the community.
To work within the restrictions set by the governor’s pandemic orders, festival organizers met with Dr. Colin Greene, director of the Lord Fairfax Health District, to find out what they needed to do make the festival as safe as possible for attendees, McCrary said.
Some activities had to be canceled — there will be no bingo games, for instance, since players would have to sit too close to one another — but most events will still take place.
To help with safety, there will be plenty of hand-sanitizing stations. Masks are not mandatory, but the club is recommending people wear them. Plastic screens will be set up between vendors and customers. Instead of two entry points, just one entrance will be open to allow volunteers to keep a close count on the number of people going in and out. Attendance is limited to 1,000 people at a time.
“People should be able to spread out on 60 acres of property,” McCrary said.
Live music will still be offered both days. Bring your own blanket or chair if you want to sit and enjoy the music.
On Saturday, Bryan Stutzman will play at 10 a.m., the Wayne Lee Ray Band at noon and Amanda Wilkins & Sam Stillwell at 3 p.m.
On Sunday, Jimmy Lee will perform at 11:30 a.m. and Gary Smallwood at 2 p.m.
A highlight of the festival will be the Apple Pie Eating Contest at 1 p.m. Sunday with emcee Barry Lee of WINC FM radio. Celebrity contestants, including Middletown Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV and Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland, will compete to see who can polish off an apple pie the fastest.
Food trucks will offer goodies such as turkey legs, kettle corn, crab cakes, barbecue, burgers and ice cream as well as apples, apple butter and Rinker’s Cider.
Hard ciders and craft beers can also be purchased by anyone 21 years old and older.
Admission is $10 per person, although there’s no charge for children under age 10. And new this year is free admission for military veterans and law enforcement personnel with ID. Coupons for $1 admission can by found at local Handy Mart stores.
Bring the whole family. Pets are also welcome.