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Crowds return to Hendersonville's Apple Festival

Colby Creasman Buchanan, President of the 75th North Carolina Apple Festival, helps customers select apples at the Creasman Farms stand at the festival on Saturday. Colby Creasman Buchanan, President of the 75th North Carolina Apple Festival, helps customers select apples at the Creasman Farms stand at the festival on Saturday.

North Carolina’s 75th Apple Festival continued Saturday in Hendersonville with crowds forming lines for the bags of apples, apple doughnuts, apple slushies and other apple goodies local farmers offered along the street fair on Main Street.

Any fears about the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the area or that last year’s lack of a street fair might keep people away this year seemed to evaporate as mostly maskless crowds filled nearby parking lots and packed Main Street.
Clear, blue skies and moderate temperatures also seemed to draw people to the festival this year, organizers said.
“Honestly, we are so happy people have been really kind and happy to be here,” Apple Festival President Colby Creasman Buchanan said as she worked filling bags of apples for customers at the Creasman Farms stand on Main Street. “Good weather and nice people make for a great festival.”
The Creasmans also offered apple slushies, caramel apple slices and homemade apple pies along with various sized bags of apples.
Buchanan said she thinks crowds returned to the festival this year despite the Covid surge because people love and are faithful to the Apple Festival.
She said she also wanted to encourage people in Henderson County to continue to support their local apple farms after the festival.
Freezing weather during the growing season slashed this year’s apple crop 70 to 80 percent this year.
“We do have apples, and we have good apples,” Buchanan said. “It’s going to be a short season. They need to come early.”
The season at Creasman Farms in Hendersonville will likely end in mid-October this year. Typical apple seasons run into January, February or even March, she said.
A few blocks up the street from the Creasman’s location, long lines formed at the Justus Orchards’ stand where customers bought apples, cider doughnuts and slushies.
Cory Justus, a fifth-generation member of the farming family, said his fears that people might have forgotten about the Apple Festival after the street fair was canceled last year were put to rest after seeing the turnout on Friday and Saturday.
He and others working the Justus Orchards stand at the fair saw around 1,000 customers by around midday on Saturday. They also made 55 batches of doughnuts for their stand. Each batch makes 13 dozen doughnuts, he said.
Justus Orchards farm location in Henderson County was also open Saturday selling apples, apple pies, ice cream, fritters, doughnuts and barbecue, Justus said.
Apple Festival Executive Director David Nicholson said attendance fell off slightly Friday during hotter temperatures around midday but picked back up toward the evening. Saturday brought even more crowds, he said.
“It has really picked up. It’s done really well with the weather,” he said. “We are going to have a good attendance this year.”
Several people at the festival on Saturday said they were just happy to be out in nice weather with their families.
Lanette Sabol, 49, of Rutherfordton, came to the festival Saturday with her daughter and grandchildren. She stood with a bag of apples on her arm as she watched the children practice spraying a fire hose at a target with some Hendersonville firefighters.
She said she comes to the festival every year and was “100 percent” happy the street fair was back this year. Sabol said she enjoys seeing the apple vendors, walking along Main Street and getting her grandchildren outdoors.
Katie Rangnow, 42, helped her sons, 2-year-old Owen and 6-year-old Colin, sluice for rocks outside the Pisgah Forest Gem Mine and Gifts store on Main Street.
She said the family went to the Apple Festival once before Covid canceled the street fair last year. She and the boys were happy to be back this year.
“They’ve actually really enjoyed this. We haven’t done the rides yet,” she said just as the Bandit Flight Team roared overhead. The team made up of several vintage airplanes planned to make two to passes over Hendersonville, Nicholson said.
The planes flew over in formation during the first flyover before splitting away from each other and making several circles over downtown.
“We love it,” Rangnow said.
The Apple Festival continues on Main Street on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.