Apple Festival set for this Saturday
● By Steven Hoffman
The official arrival of autumn will take place on Sept. 22, but in Oxford the new season is ushered in by the Oxford Presbyterian Church's annual Apple Festival, which returns to the Oxford Memorial Park this Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
There will be plenty of food, fun, and family-friendly activities at this year's Apple Festival, as well as more than 70 vendors—including artisans, crafters, and numerous nonprofit organizations that will be promoting their causes.
“It's a great way for the community to come together,” explained Neeley Spotts, who co-chairs the planning committee that organizes the event. “This is our 27th year. We think it will be a lot of fun.”
Spotts said that it looks like a record number of vendors from throughout the area will be participating this year, offering everything from pottery to jewelry to handmade crafts. Some vendors, like Maggie Creshkoff of Backlog Pottery, will be doing entertaining demonstrations.
Children can enjoy plenty of activities throughout the day, including a bouncy castle, crafts, a photo booth area with fun props to create some interesting family photos, a storytelling area, and more.
Spotts said that one highlight for children will be a Disney character meet-and-greet in the morning.
Food is always an important part of the Apple Festival, starting with the apple pies, apple butter, and apple cider.
Even though the apple pies will undoubtedly sell quickly, there should be an ample supply. “On the Sunday before the event, nobody is allowed to leave church without a pie plate in hand,” Spotts joked.
A food truck and food tent area will be set up to offer a variety of other foods. Some of the vendors signed up to participate include Laughing Crab Catering, Crossan Concessions Kettle Corn, Kilby Cream, LuLu’s Cafe On the Go, and Garcias Tacos Rapidos. There will also be bake tables from Oxford Presbyterian Church and a delicious variety of fresh, hot prepared foods from the Oxford Presbyterian Women under the pavilion.
The lineup of entertainers on the stage includes Rob Robinson, Bob Molly, Bruce Fite, the Upper Chesapeake Community Band, the OPC Women’s Praise Team, and a few other performers.
A silent auction of a wide variety of items that have been donated to the Apple Festival will also take place.
The Apple Festival got its start in 1989. A devastating fire over Memorial Day weekend severely damaged the church building, but the church members were resilient and planned the first Apple Festival for later that year to help with the rebuilding effort. Through the years, the festival became a tradition, and proceeds from the event have helped many different worthy causes.
“The church uses the festival as a way to give back to the community,” explained Bethany Atkinson, who is one of the members of the planning committee.
Atkinson explained that this year's main beneficiary is the Oxford Rotary Foundation’s inclusive playground project. The goal of the project is to install playground equipment in Oxford Memorial Park that will allow children of all abilities to use them.
Paul Matthews, a member of Oxford Borough Council, championed the inclusive playground project, and the Oxford Rotary Foundation has been working on the initiative for more than a year. The total cost of the project is anticipated to be $155,000.
Atkinson said that she likes being involved with an event that will help out such a good cause. She noted that the inclusive playground will not only be beneficial to many children in the area, it will also help adults who have disabilities to play with their children, too.
Spotts said that last year, the Apple Festival was able to contribute about $6,000 to the Oxford Educational Foundation, and another $1,000 to the annual John H. Ware IV Hunger Walk.
“We're happy to be partnering with the Oxford Rotary Club,” Spotts explained. “We hope to be able to bring additional awareness about the project. Everybody's working hard for a great cause that benefits the community. This has become a tradition for us to give back to the community each year.”