It’s harvest season, and that also means harvest and fall festivals. In many cases, it’s not just about eating, it’s about participating! Whether you’re interested in trying farm-fresh apples or crushing grapes the old fashioned way, we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting harvest festivals for the month of October.
Held during the first two weekends in October, the National Apple Harvest Festival is celebrating its 50th year of providing crafts, music, and, yes…food to those in Pennsylvania’s apple country. The festival was inspired by the successfully run Apple Blossom Sunday by the Adams County Fruitgrowers Association in the early 1950s. The Upper Adams Jaycees, a group of community leaders, were eager for a fundraiser for local businesses and decided to organize the event themselves. The National Apple Harvest Festival debuted on Sunday, October 10, 1965. But, you’d better love apples! At the festival, you can go apple-bobbing, try apple dumplings and apple sauce, candied apples, apple jellies, and of course, a variety of fresh apples. Special attractions include the Apple Auditorium and Antique Cars, Steam Engine Displays, Orchard Tours, Petting Zoo, Craftsmen Demonstrations, and appearances by—control your excitement—the Pennsylvania Apple Queen.
Harvest on the Harbor is the perfect fall event for foodies and wine lovers. This year, it’s being held for four full days from October 22 to 25, with different events on each day. On Wednesday’s Harvest Dinner on the Stage, diners get to experience a seven-course meal prepared on stage by seven noteworthy chefs. On Saturday, get ready for a gastronomic parade—or an attack (depending on your appetite) called The Big Eat, Samplings at the Marketplace. The festival features more than 250 artisanal restaurants, and it’s all about fresh, locally harvested seafood and more than 160 chefs, wineries, distilleries, and breweries. There are competitions such as Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant, Lobster Chef of the Year, and Barbecue Extravaganza. The festival attracts more than 5,000 people from all over the world who want to have a taste of the finest Maine-made products.
From October 5th-7th, the Santa Rosa Wine Country is having its 40th annual festival, complete with a World Championship Grape Stomp event. More than 150 wineries and the winners from this year’s Professional Wine, Food, and Restaurant competitions will gather at the Grand Harvest Tasting Pavilion to offer samples. Shop for your favorite gold-winning wines, beer, and cider products at the Wine Country Marketplace. You can also begin your Christmas shopping at the Artisan Vendors and Crafts Venue, where local artists will be selling their locally made, unique, hand-crafted products. You can even vote for your favorite Professional Wine Label.
This year, Wellfleet, Massachusetts is holding its 14th annual OysterFest on October 18 and 19. This festival is run by a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the traditions of the town’s shellfishing industry. As a tribute to those traditions, this two-day family festival will feature local cuisine, arts and crafts, educational programs, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, walking tours, live music, a road race, and of course, the one you don’t want to miss—the Annual Oyster Shuck-Off Competition. Contestants not only need to shuck as fast as they can, but they must also consider aesthetic presentation. Points are taken off for any broken shells, smashed oysters, or blood shed from slashed fingers. The winner receives a $1,000 cash prize and becomes qualified to compete in the National U.S. Oyster Shucking Championship Contest in Maryland. There will be an estimated 25,000 people who walk through the gates this year.
Want to learn about more unique festivals around the country? Check out:
- Four Can’t-Miss Southern Food Festivals
- Labor Day Weekend Festivals Around the Country
- Beyond Coachella: 5 Music Festivals Across the U.S.
By Jessica May Tang for PeterGreenberg.com