It seems that Applefest, Warwick’s largest and most well attended event, has always enjoyed pretty good weather. Although, in 1989, the very first Applefest was almost wiped out by Hurricane Hugo, which struck this area in the early afternoon. Since then, however, it’s generally been clear sailing. But on Sunday, October 6, a light, or what they call in Ireland a “soft rain,” fell throughout the day. Was that a big disappointment? No, it was a bigger crowd, perhaps a record one to date. “I think this is the largest crowd we’ve ever had,” said Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton as he handed out free Applefest guides. Michael Johndrow, executive director of the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce, echoed that observation.

Crowds all day
“This is unusual,” he said. “We’ve had the same large crowds early this morning as we would normally expect in the afternoon.” Johndrow credits a decision by the Applefest Committee to consolidate the attractions by placing vendors, who would normally be in or outside of Lewis Park, to stations along South Street extending up to the vendor and carnival area in Stanley Deming Park. Another factor was that it was also a milestone anniversary, the 25th, of the annual celebration of Applefest. The traditional festival has been held since 1989 to celebrate the local apple harvest.

This year, Applefest again played host to about 250 craft and food vendors and there was free entertainment, children’s rides and a traditional apple pie contest. Each year the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Warwick Valley Community Center host Applefest. The popular festival is a major fund raiser and much needed proceeds from the event are used for town-wide community projects and non-profit organizations.

Too early for final tally
In spite of the magnitude of the event, the largest in Orange County and one of the largest in the Country, 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. Last year’s Applefest raised over $80,000. The final tally for this year’s event, however, will not be available for several weeks. Although the day can be an inconvenience to some residents, the monies 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.



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