Applefest’s long tradition a major casualty of the pandemic

Warwick. But the Applefest Committee looks forward to another festival in 2021.

| 29 Sep 2020 | 06:00

This was the weekend that The Warwick Advertiser would have published essential information along with a map and a schedule of events for the 32nd celebration of Applefest.

Unfortunately, however, earlier this summer Warwick Applefest organizers announced that this year’s annual festival, scheduled for Oct. 4, had been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and gathering size restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

The traditional festival has been held since 1989 to celebrate the local apple harvest.

The popular event, produced each year by the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce, is a major fund raiser and much-needed proceeds from the event are used for town-wide community projects and non-profit organizations.

Applefest has been voted “best fall festival” in Hudson Valley Magazine as well as one of the top 100 events in North America according to the American Bus Association. And an estimated 30,000 or so visitors usually attend the one-day event, traveling from neighboring states to experience the extraordinary variety of Warwick’s apples, food, crafts, music and entertainment.

The festival has an exceptional record of enjoying good weather but there have been a few close calls throughout its history.

The very first Applefest, for example, was almost wiped out by Hurricane Hugo which struck this area in the early afternoon.

In 2009 it rained heavily in the morning and some Applefest vendors were ready to throw in the towel just before the skies cleared.

And in 2011, it appeared that many of the visitors would change their minds when they awoke to rain and cloudy skies that morning. But although the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic on Route 17A never materialized, by late morning and early afternoon, large crowds finally appeared and those who came to Warwick enjoyed the rest of a picture perfect day and comfortable temperatures.

In spite of the magnitude of the event, Applefest is surprisingly cost effective.

Members of non-profit organizations perform numerous tasks before and after the event.

Applefest earns its keep by renting space to vendors and organizations and by sharing the amusement income with the company that provides the rides. Most of the non-profit organizations serve food or sell retail items. And for many, Applefest is the major fund raiser for the entire year.

Although the day can be an inconvenience to some residents, the money earned are used to support valuable services for everyone throughout the year. And many of these services would normally have to be paid with additional taxes or donations.

The Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Applefest Committee look forward to another Applefest in 2021.