Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — How do you like them apples?
That question may be a little tougher to answer this year, what with the early buds followed by a late freeze and the summer drought leading to a less-than-stellar apple crop.
Still, the show must go on, and the Niagara Apple Fest is no exception, running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday at the Niagara County Fairgrounds.
“We’re expecting it to be pretty busy, especially because of the new admission policy,” said organizer Rich Hoose. “We’re also hoping the weather holds.”
The annual event, which began in the 1990s and has been operated by Hoose since 2007, offers a kids area, live entertainment, Highland Games, food, and an indoor-outdoor country craft show, with some 50-60 vendors inside, and another 35-40 crafters and exhibitors outside.
Hoose hopes to see a spike in attendance this year with the new admission policy in which a $5 parking fee gets the entire carload inside. In previous years, patrons 12 and older paid separate admissions.
“A lot of our crafters made a point to mention that they were coming back this year because of the new admission setup,” Hoose said.
An ATM will be available on site this year, something that Hoose said was a frequent request from visitors.
More than 15 vendors will be on hand in a food court-type setup that’s been named the “Nosh Pit.” It features area vendors, food truck operators from Buffalo and even a vendor from Glens Falls.
“It’s a husband and wife team that serves authentic German food,” Hoose said of Glen and Hannelore Markham and their German Wurst Haus. “They don’t make it here every year.”
A farmers’ market area will also be open, where visitors can purchase pumpkins, corn, apples, squash and other gourds, and more.
“We have a ridiculous variety of food this year,” Hoose said. “I’m personally most excited about the variety of foods we’re going to have.”
Hoose said the festival turned away a handful of food vendors for this year’s event for fear of running out of exhibit space.
The Apple Jam Kidz Zone will feature six inflatable bounce houses, obstacle courses and other items, available for a one-price wristband.
Lakeview Animal Sanctuary, despite last month’s devastating fire, will have a petting zoo and pony rides set up. Hoose said the Apple Fest is encouraging people to visit lakeviewanimalsanctuary.org to learn about items the sanctuary needs as it rebuilds.
Sunday will feature the Celtic Highland Games, featuring many of the same competitors from last month’s Celtic Fest at Krull Park in Newfane.
Other organizations that receive support from the Niagara Apple Fest include The Winter Wonderland Project, United Stockings Sailors Soldiers and the Food bank of Western New York. A canned food drive will take place for the food bank throughout the weekend.